Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy
1. Division of the History of Philosophy.
Since we set to work systematically this division must present itself as necessary. Speaking generally, we have properly only two epochs to distinguish in the history of Philosophy, as in ancient and modern art-these are the Greek and the Teutonic. The Teutonic Philosophy is the Philosophy within Christendom in so far as it belongs to the Teutonic nations; the Christian-European people, inasmuch as they belong to the world of science possess collectively Teutonic culture; for Italy, Spain, France, England, and the rest, have through the Teutonic nations, received a new form. The influence of Greece also reaches into the Roman world, and hence we have to speak of Philosophy in the territory of the Roman world; but the Romans produced no proper Philosophy any more than any proper poets. They have only received from and imitated others, although they have often done this with intelligence; even their religion is derived from the Greek, and the special character that it has, makes no approach to Philosophy and Art, but is unphilosophical and inartistic.
A further description of these two outstanding opposites must be given. The Greek world developed thought as far as to the Idea; the Christian Teutonic world, on the contrary, has comprehended Thought as Spirit; Idea and Spirit are thus the distinguishing features. More particularly the facts are as follows. Because God, the still undetermined and immediate Universal, Being, or objective Thought, jealously allowing nothing to exist beside Him, is the substantial groundwork of all Philosophy, which never alters, but ever sinks more deeply within itself, and through the development of determinations manifests itself and brings to consciousness, we may designate the particular character of the development in the first period of Philosophy by saying that this development is a simple process of determinations, figurations, abstract qualities, issuing from the one ground that potentially already contains the whole.
The second stage in this universal principle is the gathering up of the determinations manifested thus, into ideal, concrete unity, in the mode of subjectivity. The first determinations as immediate, were still abstractions, but now the Absolute, as the endlessly self-determining Universal, must furthermore be comprehended as active Thought, and not as the Universal in this determinate character. Hence it is manifested as the totality of determinations and as concrete individuality. Thus, with the nous of Anaxagoras, and still more with Socrates, there commences a subjective totality in which Thought grasps itself, and thinking activity is the fundamental principle.
The third stage, then, is that this totality, which is at first abstract, in that it becomes realized through the active, determining, distinguishing thought, sets itself forth even in the separated determinations, which, as ideal, belong to it. Since these determinations are contained unseparated in the unity, and thus each in it is also the other, these opposed moments are raised into totalities. The quite general forms of opposition are the universal and the particular, or, in another form, Thought as such, external reality, feeling or perception. The Notion is the identity of universal and particular; because each of these is thus set forth as concrete in itself, the universal is in itself at once the unity of universality and particularity, and the same holds good of particularity. Unity is thus posited in both forms, and the abstract moments can be made complete through this unity alone; thus it has come to pass that the differences themselves are each raised up to a system of totality, which respectively confront one another as the Philosophy of Stoicism and of Epicureanism. The whole concrete universal is now Mind; and the whole concrete individual, Nature. In Stoicism pure Thought develops into a totality; if we make the other side from Mind-natural being or feeling-into a totality, Epicureanism is the result. Each determination is formed into a totality of thought, and, in accordance with the simple mode which characterizes this sphere, these principles seem to be for themselves and independent, like two antagonistic systems of Philosophy. Implicitly both are identical, but they themselves take up their position as conflicting, and the Idea is also, as it is apprehended, in a one-sided determinateness.
The higher stage is the union of these differences. This may occur in annihilation, in scepticism; but the higher point of view is the affirmative, the Idea in relation to the Notion. If the Notion is, then, the universal-that which determines itself further within itself, but yet remains there in its unity and in the ideality and transparency of its determinations which do not become independent-the further step is, on the other hand, the reality of the Notion in which the differences are themselves brought to totalities. Thus the fourth stage is the union of the Idea, in which all these differences, as totalities, are yet at the same time blended into one concrete unity of Notion. This comprehension first takes place without constraint, since the ideal is itself only apprehended in the element of universality.
The Greek world got as far as this Idea, since they formed an ideal intellectual world; and this was done by the Alexandrian Philosophy, in which the Greek Philosophy perfected itself and reached its end. If we wish to represent this process figuratively,
A. Thought, is (a) speaking generally abstract, as in universal or absolute space, by which empty space is often understood; (b) then the most simple space determinations appear, in which we commence with the point in order that we may arrive at the line and angle; (c) what comes third is their union into the triangle, that which is indeed concrete, but which is still retained in this abstract element of surface, and thus is only the first and still formal totality and limitation which corresponds to the nous.
B. The next point is, that since we allow each of the enclosing lines of the triangle to be again surface, each forms itself into the totality of the triangle and into the whole figure to which it belongs; that is the realization of the whole in the sides as we see it in Scepticism or Stoicism.
C. The last stage of all is, that these surfaces or sides of the triangle join themselves into a body or a totality: the body is for the first time the perfect spatial determination, and that is a reduplication of the triangle. But in as far as the triangle which forms the basis is outside of the pyramid, this simile does not hold good.
Grecian Philosophy in the Neo-platonists finds its end in a perfect kingdom of Thought and of bliss, and in a potentially existent world of the ideal, which is yet unreal because the whole only exists in the element of universality. This world still lacks individuality as such, which is an essential moment in the Notion; actuality demands that in the identity of both sides of the Idea, the independent totality shall be also posited as negative. Through this self-existent negation, which is absolute subjectivity, the Idea is first raised into Mind. Mind is the subjectivity of self-knowledge; but it is only Mind inasmuch as it knows what is object to itself, and that is itself, as a totality, and is for itself a totality. That is to say, the two triangles which are above and below in the prism must not be two in the sense of being doubled, but they must be one intermingled unity. Or, in the case of body, the difference arises between the centre and the peripheral parts. This opposition of real corporeality and centre as the simple existence, now makes its appearance, and the totality is the union of the centre and the substantial-not, however, the simple union, but a union such that the subjective knows itself as subjective in relation to the objective and substantial. Hence the Idea is this totality, and the Idea which knows itself is essentially different from the substantial; the former manifests itself independently, but in such a manner that as such it is considered to be for itself substantial. The subjective Idea is at first only formal, but it is the real possibility of the substantial and of the potentially universal; its end is to realize itself and to identify itself with substance. Through this subjectivity and negative unity, and through this absolute negativity, the ideal becomes no longer our object merely, but object to itself, and this principle has taken effect in the world of Christianity. Thus in the modern point of view the subject is for itself free, man is free as man, and from this comes the idea that because he is Mind he has from his very nature the eternal quality of being substantial. God becomes known as Mind which appears to itself as double, yet removes the difference that it may in it be for and at home with itself. The business of the world, taking it as a whole, is to become reconciled with Mind, recognizing itself therein, and this business is assigned to the Teutonic world.
The first beginning of this undertaking is found in the Religion which is the contemplation of and faith in this principle as in an actual existence before a knowledge of the principle has been arrived at. In the Christian Religion this principle is found more as feeling and idea; in it man as man is destined to everlasting bliss, and is an object of divine grace, pity and interest, which is as much as saying that man has an absolute and infinite value. We find it further in that dogma revealed through Christ to men, of the unity of the divine and human nature, according to which the subjective and the objective Idea-man and God are one. This, in another form, is found in the old story of the Fall, in which the serpent did not delude man, for God said, "Behold, Adam has become as one of us, to know good and evil." We have to deal with this unity of subjective principle and of substance; it constitutes the process of Mind that this individual one or independent existence of subject should put aside its immediate character and bring itself forth as identical with the substantial. Such an aim is pronounced to be the highest end attainable by man. We see from this that religious ideas and speculation are not so far asunder as was at first believed, and I maintain these ideas in order that we may not be ashamed of them, seeing that we still belong to them, and so that if we do get beyond them, we may not be ashamed of our progenitors of the early Christian times, who held these ideas in such high esteem.
The first principle of that Philosophy which has taken its place in Christendom is thus found in the existence of two totalities. This is a reduplication of substance which now, however, is characterized by the fact that the two totalities are no longer external to one another, but are clearly both required through their relation to one another. If formerly Stoicism and Epicureanism, whose negativity was Scepticism, came forth as independent, and if finally the implicitly existent universality of both was established, these moments are now known as separate totalities, and yet in their opposition they have to be thought of as one. We have here the true speculative Idea, the Notion in its determinations, each of which is brought into a totality and clearly relates to the other. We thus have really two Ideas, the subjective Idea as knowledge, and then the substantial and concrete Idea; and the development and perfection of this principle and its coming to the consciousness of Thought, is the subject treated by modern Philosophy. Thus the determinations are in it more concrete than with the ancients. This opposition in which the two sides culminate, grasped in its widest significance, is the opposition between Thought and Being, individuality and substance, so that in the subject himself his freedom stands once more within the bounds of necessity; it is the opposition between subject and object, and between Nature and Mind, in so far as this last as finite stands in opposition to Nature.
The Greek Philosophy is free from restraint because it does not yet have regard to the opposition between Being and Thought, but proceeds from the unconscious presupposition that Thought is also Being. Certainly certain stages in the Greek Philosophy are laid hold of which seem to stand on the same platform as the Christian philosophies. Thus when we see, for instance, in the Philosophy of the Sophists, the new Academics, and the Sceptics, that they maintain the doctrine that the truth is not capable of being known, they might appear to accord with the later subjective philosophies in asserting that all thought-determinations were only subjective in character, and that hence from these no conclusions could be arrived at as regards what is objective. But there is really a difference. In the case of ancient philosophies, which said that we know only the phenomenal, everything is confined to that; it is as regards practical life that the new Academy and the Sceptics also admitted the possibility of conducting oneself rightly, morally and rationally, when one adopts the phenomenal as one's rule and guide in life. But though it is the phenomenal that lies at the foundation of things, it is not asserted that there is likewise a knowledge of the true and existent, as in the case of the merely subjective idealists of a more modern day. Those last still keep in the background a potentiality, a beyond which cannot be known through thought or through conception. This other knowledge is an immediate knowledge-a faith in, a view of, and a yearning after, the beyond such as was evinced by Jacobi. The ancients have no such yearning: on the contrary, they have perfect satisfaction and rest in the certitude that only that which appears is for Knowledge.
Thus it is necessary in this respect to keep strictly to the point of view from which we start, else through the similarity of the results, we come to see in that old Philosophy all the determinate character of modern subjectivity. Since in the simplicity of ancient philosophy the phenomenal was itself the only sphere, doubts as to objective thought were not present to it.
The opposition defined, the two sides of which are in modern times really related to one another as totalities, also has the form of an opposition between reason and faith, between individual perception and the objective truth which must be taken without reason of one's own, and even with a complete disregard for such reason. This is faith as understood by the church, or faith in the modern sense, i.e. a rejection of reason in favour of an inward revelation, called a direct certainty or perception, or an implicit and intuitive feeling. The opposition between this knowledge, which has first of all to develop itself, and that knowledge which has already developed itself inwardly, arouses a peculiar interest. In both cases the unity of thought or subjectivity and of Truth or objectivity is manifested, only in the first form it is said that the natural man knows the Truth since he intuitively believes it, while in the second form the unity of knowledge and Truth is shown, but in such a way that the subject raises itself above the immediate form of sensuous consciousness and reaches the Truth first of all through Thought.
The final end is to think the Absolute as Mind, as the Universal, that which, when the infinite bounty of the Notion in its reality freely emits its determinations from itself, wholly impresses itself upon and imparts itself to them, so that they may be indifferently outside of or in conflict with one another, but so that these totalities are one only, not alone implicitly, (which would simply be our reflection) but explicitly identical, the determinations of their difference being thus explicitly merely ideal. Hence if the starting-point of the history of Philosophy can be expressed by saying that God is comprehended as the immediate and not yet developed universality, and that its end-the grasping of the Absolute as Mind through the two and a half thousand years' work of the thus far inert world-spirit-is the end of our time, it makes it easy for us from one determination to go on through the manifestation of its needs, to others. Yet in the course of history this is difficult.
We thus have altogether two philosophies-the Greek and the Teutonic. As regards the latter we must distinguish the time when Philosophy made its formal appearance as Philosophy and the period of formation and of preparation for modern times. We may first begin Teutonic philosophy where it appears in proper form as Philosophy. Between the first period and those more recent, comes, as an intermediate period, that fermentation of a new Philosophy which on the one side keeps within the substantial and real existence and does not arrive at form, while on the other side, it perfects Thought, as the bare form of a pre-supposed truth, until it again knows itself as the free ground and source of Truth. Hence the history of Philosophy falls into three periods-that of the Greek Philosophy, the Philosophy of the Middle Ages and the modern Philosophy. Of these the first is speaking generally, regulated by Thought, the second falls into the opposition between existence and formal reflection, but the third has the Notion as its ground. This must not be taken to mean that the first contains Thought alone; it also has conceptions and ideas, just as the latter begins from abstract thoughts which yet constitute a duality.
First Period. — This commences at the time of Thales, about 600 B.C., and goes on to the coming to maturity of the Neo-platonic philosophy with Plotinus in the third century; from thence to its further progress and development with Proclus in the fifth century until the time when all philosophy was extinguished. The Neo-platonic philosophy then made its entrance into Christianity later on, and many philosophies within Christianity have this philosophy as their only groundwork. This is a space of time extending to about 1000 years, the end of which coincides with the migration of the nations and the decline of the Roman Empire.
Second Period. — The second period is that of the Middle Ages. The Scholastics are included in it, and Arabians and Jews are also historically to be noticed, but this philosophy mainly falls within the Christian Church. This period is of something over 1000 years' duration.
Third Period. — Philosophy of modern times made its first independent appearance after the Thirty Years' War, with Bacon, Jacob Böhm and Descartes; it begins with the distinction contained in: cogito ergo sum. This period is one of a couple of centuries and the philosophy is consequently still somewhat modern.
2. Sources of the History of Philosophy.
We have to seek for sources of another kind in this than in political history. There historians are the fountainheads, which again have as sources the deeds and sayings of individuals; and the historians who are not original have over and above performed their work at secondhand. But historians always have the deeds already present in history, that is to say, here brought into the form of ordinary conception; for the name of history has two meanings: it signifies on the one hand the deeds and events themselves, and on the other, it denotes them in so far as they are formed through conception for conception. In the history of Philosophy there are, on the contrary, not any sources which can be derived from historians, but the deeds themselves lie before us, and these - the philosophic operations themselves - are the true sources. If we wish to study the history of Philosophy in earnest, we must go to such springs as these. Yet these operations form too wide a field to permit of our keeping to it alone in this history. In the case of many philosophers it is absolutely necessary to confine oneself to the original authors, but in many periods, in which we cannot obtain original sources, seeing that they have not been preserved to us, (as, for instance, in that of the older Greek philosophy) we must certainly confine our attention simply to historians and other writers. There are other periods, too, where it is desirable that others should have read the works of the philosophers and that we should receive abstracts therefrom. Several schoolmen have left behind them works of sixteen, twenty-four and twenty-six folios, and hence we must in their case confine ourselves to the researches of others. Many philosophic works are also rare and hence difficult to obtain. Many philosophers are for the most part important from an historic or literary point of view only, and hence we may limit ourselves to the compilations in which they are dealt with. The most noteworthy works on the history of Philosophy are, however, the following, regarding which I refer for particulars to the summary of Tennemann's History of Philosophy, by A. Wendt, since I do not wish to give any complete list.
1. One of the first Histories of Philosophy, which is only interesting as an attempt, is the "History of Philosophy," by Thomas Stanley (London, 1655, folio ed. III., 1701. 4. translated into Latin by Godofr. Olearius, Lipsiae, 1711, 4). This history is no longer much used, and only contains the old philosophic schools in the form of sects and as if no new ones had existed. That is to say, it keeps to the old belief commonly held at that time, that there only were ancient philosophies and that the period of philosophy came to an end with Christianity, as if Philosophy were something belonging to heathendom and the truth only could be found in Christianity. In it a distinction was drawn between Truth as it is created from the natural reason in the ancient philosophies, and the revealed truth of the Christian religion, in which there was consequently no longer any Philosophy. In the time of the Revival of Learning there certainly were no proper philosophies, and above all in Stanley's time systems of Philosophy proper were too young for the older generations to have the amount of respect for them necessary to allow of their being esteemed as realities.
2. Jo. Jac. Bruckeri Historia critica philosophĉ Lipsiĉ, 1742-1744, four parts, or five volumes in four, for the fourth part has two volumes. The second edition, unaltered, but with the addition of a supplement, 1766-1767, four parts in six quartos the last of which forms the supplement. This is an immense compilation which is not formed straight from the original sources, but is mixed with reflections after the manner of the times. As we have seen from an example above [§ A. 3. c.] the accounts given are in the highest degree inaccurate. Brucker's manner of procedure is entirely unhistoric, and yet nowhere ought we to proceed in a more historic manner than in the history of Philosophy. This work is thus simply so much useless ballast. An epitome of the same is Jo. Jac. Bruckeri Institutiones historiĉ philosophicĉ, usui academicĉ juventutis adornatĉ. Lipsiĉ, 1747, 8; second edition, Leipzig, 1756; third edition prepared by Born, Leipzig, 1790, 8.
3. Dietrich Tiedmann's Geist der Speculativen Philosophie, Marburg, 1791-1797, 6 vols., 8. He treats of political history diffusely, but without any life, and the language is stiff and affected. The whole work is a melancholy example of how a learned professor can occupy his whole life with the study of speculative philosophy, and yet have no idea at all of speculation. His argumenta to the Plato of Brucker are of the same description. In every history he makes abstracts from the philosophers so long as they keep to mere ratiocination, but when the speculative is arrived at, he becomes irate, declaring it all to be composed of empty subtleties, and stops short with the words "we know better." His merit is that he has supplied valuable abstracts from rare books belonging to the Middle Ages and from cabalistic and mystical works of that time.
4. Job. Gottlieb Buhle : Lehrbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie und einer kritischen Literatur derselben. Göttingen, 1796 to 1804. Eight parts, 8. Ancient philosophy is treated with disproportionate brevity; the further Buhle went on, the more particular he became. He has many good summaries of rare works, as for instance those of Giordano Bruno, which were in the Göttingen Library.
5. Wilh. Gottl. Tennemann's Geschichte der Philosophie, Leipzig, 1798-1819, eleven parts, 8. The eighth part, the Scholastic Philosophy, occupies two volumes. The philosophies are fully described, and the more modern times are better done than the ancient. The philosophies of recent times are easier to describe, since it is only necessary to make an abstract or to interpret straight on, for the thoughts contained in them lie nearer to ours. It is otherwise with the ancient philosophers, because they stand in another stage of the Notion, and on this account they are likewise more difficult to grasp. That is to say, what is old is easily overthrown by something else more familiar to us, and where Tennemann comes across such he is almost useless. In Aristotle, for instance, the misinterpretation is so great, that Tennemann foists upon him what is directly opposite to his beliefs, and thus from the adoption of the opposite to what Tennemann asserts to be Aristotle's opinion, a correct idea of Aristotelian philosophy is arrived at. Tennemann is then candid enough to place the reference to Aristotle underneath the text, so that the original and the interpretation often contradict one another. Tennemann thinks that it is really the case that the historian should have no philosophy, and he glories in that; yet he really has a system and he is a critical philosopher. He praises philosophers, their work and their genius, and yet the end of the lay is that all of them will be pronounced to be wanting in that they have one defect, which is not to be Kantian philosophers and not yet to have sought the source of knowledge. From this the result is that the Truth could not be known.
Of compendiums, three have to be noticed. 1. Frederick Aft's Grundriss einer Geschichte der Philosophie. (Landshut 1807, 8; second edition, 1825) is written from a better point of view; the Philosophy is that of Schelling for the most part, but it is somewhat confused. Aft by some formal method has distinguished ideal philosophy from real. 2. Professor Wendt's Göttingen edition of Tennemann (fifth edition, Leipzig, 1828, 8). It is astonishing to see what is represented as being Philosophy, without any consideration as to whether it has any meaning or not. Such so-called new philosophies grow like mushrooms out of the ground. There is nothing easier than to comprehend in harmony with a principle; but it must not be thought that hence something new and profound has been accomplished. 3. Rirner's Handbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie, 3 vols., Sulzbach, 1822-1823, 8 (second amended edition, 1829) is most to be commanded, and yet I will not assert that it answers all the requirements of a History of Philosophy. There are many points which leave much to desire, but the appendices to each volume in which the principal original authorities are quoted, are particularly excellent for their purpose. Selected extracts, more specially from the ancient philosophers, are needed, and these would not be lengthy, since there are not very many passages to be given from the philosophers before Plato.
3. Method of Treatment Adopted in this History of Philosophy.
As regards external history I shall only touch upon that which is the concern of universal history, the spirit or the principle of the times, and hence I will treat of conditions of life in reference to the outstanding philosophers. Of philosophies, however, only those are to be made mention of the principles of which have caused some sensation, and through which science has made an advance; hence I shall put aside many names which would be taken up in a learned treatise, but which are of little value in respect to Philosophy. The history of the dissemination of a doctrine, its fate, those who have merely taught a particular doctrine, I pass over, as the deduction of the whole world from one particular principle.
The demand that in Philosophy an historian should have no system, should put into the philosophy nothing of his own, nor assail it with his ideas, seems a plausible one. The history of Philosophy should show just this impartiality, and it seems, in so far that to give only summaries of the philosophers proves a success. He who understands nothing of the matter, and has no system, but merely historic knowledge, will certainly be impartial. But political history has to be carefully distinguished from the history of Philosophy. That is to say, though in the former, one is not indeed at liberty to limit oneself to representing the events chronologically only, one can yet keep to what is entirely objective, as is done in the Homeric epic. Thus Herodotus and Thucydides, as free men, let the objective world do freely and independently as it would; they have added nothing of their own, neither have they taken and judged before their tribunal the actions which they represented. Yet even in political history there is also a particular end kept in view. In Livy the main points are the Roman rule, its enlargement, and the perfecting of the constitution; we see Rome arise, defend itself, and exercise its mastery. It is thus that the self-developing reason in the history of Philosophy makes of itself an end, and this end is not foreign or imported, but is the matter itself, which lies at the basis as universal, and with which the individual forms of themselves correspond. Thus when the history of Philosophy has to tell of deeds in history, we first ask, what a deed in Philosophy is; and whether any particular thing is philosophic or not. In external history everything is in action-certainly there is in it what is important and that which is unimportant-but action is the idea immediately placed before us. This is not the case in Philosophy, and on this account the history of Philosophy cannot be treated throughout without the introduction of the historian's views.
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