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George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel In 1770 A.D. an inspiring German idealist philosopher, who became one of the most influential thinkers of the 19th century. Hegel was born in Stuttgart on August 27, 1770, the son of a revenue officer with the civil service. He was brought up in an atmosphere of Protestant Pietism and became thoroughly acquainted with the Greek and Roman classics while studying at the Stuttgart gymnasium. Encouraged by his father to become a clergyman, Hegel entered the seminary at the University of TÐ"јbingen in 1788. There he developed friendships with the poet Friedrich HÐ"¶lderlin and the philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling. Having completed a course of study in philosophy and theology and having decided not to enter the ministry, Hegel became a private tutor in Berne, Switzerland. In 1797, he assumed a similar position in Frankfurt. Two years later his father died, leaving a financial legacy that was sufficient to free him from tutoring.

In 1801, Hegel went to the University of Jena, where he studied, wrote, and eventually became a lecturer. At Jena, he completed The Phenomenology of Mind, one of his most important works. He remained at Jena until October 1806, when the city was taken by the French and he was forced to flee. Having spent the entire legacy left to him by his father, Hegel became editor of the Bamberger Zeitung in Bavaria. However, he disliked journalism, and moved to Nuremberg, where he served for eight years as headmaster of a Gymnasium. During the Nuremberg years Hegel met and married Marie von Tucher. Three children were born to the Hegels, a daughter, who died soon after birth, and two sons, Karl and Immanuel. While at Nuremberg, Hegel published over a period of several years The Science of Logic. In 1816, Hegel accepted a professorship in philosophy at the University of Heidelberg. Soon after, he published a summary of a systematic statement of his entire philosophy entitled Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline. In 1818, Hegel was invited to teach at the University of Berlin, where he was to remain. He died in Berlin on November 14, 1831, during a cholera epidemic.

After Hegel's death there was a great clash of intellectuals which the Hegelian theologian David Strauss called the clash between "the Left Hegelians and the Right Hegelians." The Left Hegelians were atheists, led by the ex-minister Bruno Bauer and his famous follower, Karl Marx, and by the radical editor Arnold Ruge. The Right Hegelians were Christian fundamentalists. They found Christian inspiration in Hegel's philosophy, and they condemned David Strauss' progressive New Testament critique, THE LIFE OF JESUS. Strauss also took his inspiration from Hegel. He showed how the earliest Christian communities altered the Gospels with their local traditions. Scholars for generations have reviewed the arguments of the Left and Right Hegelians, and are still divided on the question: Was Hegel a Christian or an atheist?

Hegel believed that by studying the relationships of concrete objects, which he held to be inter-related throughout the universe, genuine "rational" truths would be discovered. Hegel taught that abstraction inherently leads to the isolation of parts from the whole, until no further isolation is possible. Eventually, abstraction leads to the point where physical items and phenomenal concepts have no value. For example, "the atoms that make a man are just atoms by themselves, with no inherent value." It is the whole that must be evaluated.

"This is the meaning of reality for Hegel -- that reality is the whole truth, grasped by our rational concepts. Reality is the absolute truth, it is the totality and synthesis of all partial and limited truth. Reality, properly understood, is the totality of truth of absolute mind. This breathtaking vision of absolute total reality is linked to the method by which it is known. This is the famous method of dialectic...."




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