Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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What is Hegel's notion of History?

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There are basically two approaches to the “philosophy” of history.  Hegel’s is the least humanistic, in that he believes that Man’s “will” had very little to do with history, that history was “deterministic”, that is, that events occurred as results of forces outside Man’s control; he felt that history was the acting out of a Grand Scheme.  Hegel softened his view, however, by acknowledging that “chance occurrences” also did have a place in history.  He held a Romantic view that Reason “shaped the universe.”

        The recording of History, the order which Mankind gave it, was arranged around period of (only apparent) chaos, resolved not by human heroism or leadership, but by “a powerful movement of Providence through time.”  (Many Hegelian historians view all history as “revisionist history” – that is, each generation interprets the documents of history to suit their stated or unstated ideals.)  His great work, Introduction to the Philosophy of History, explains this approach at length.

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