Summarize the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The core premise of Hegel's philosophical system was that there exists in the world a sort of unified, immanent truth, which he called "Spirit," and that the history of mankind involved a sort of development toward a more enlightened consciousness, which he viewed as essentially one based on reason. He argued that this occurred through a dialectical process, where different ideas were counterposed to each other at any given point in history. Consistent with his notion of unity through diversity, one which underlay all his thought, he argued that no one idea (a thesis) completely won out over its opposite (antithesis), but rather it resolved itself in a synthesis that incorporated ideas from both, and then in turn generated its own antithesis. Hegel also placed great emphasis on nationalism and the state, and he understood Germany to be the embodiment of Spirit, representative of his time in history. Overall, Hegel's philosophy was highly abstract and preoccupied with metaphysics, though the dialectical aspect of it would be reformulated by the Young, or Left Hegelians, particularly Karl Marx, who radically broke with its spiritual aspect, situating the dialectic in conflict between social classes.


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