Philosophy of History (World Philosophers and Their Works)
In formulating his philosophy of history, Hegel traces the development of the consciousness of freedom as it moves from Eastern to Western civilization. History travels from East to West. Asian civilization is the childhood of history. Greek civilization marks the period of adolescence. In Roman civilization, history develops to adulthood. Germanic civilization appears as the fourth phase of world history—old age. The Asians had acknowledged only one person as free—the despot. Insofar as the freedom of the despot expressed itself in the recklessness of passion, it must be accounted as mere caprice; hence, in Asian civilization, freedom, properly understood, does not yet exist. In Greece and Rome, the consciousness of freedom manifested itself in the acknowledgment that some people are free. Slavery, with its restriction of freedom, was an accepted institution in both Greece and Rome. It is not until the Germanic nations that it is acknowledged that all people are free. Germanic civilization, under the influence of Christianity, attained the consciousness of universal freedom.
Among the peoples of China and India, who compose Asian civilization for Hegel, only the first glimmerings of a historical consciousness exist; history as such does not begin until the rise of the Persians. In China and India, the idea remains bound to nature. The peculiar determinants of Spirit are lacking. In China, morality is equated with...
(The entire section is 1178 words.)
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