Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (HAY-guhl), one of the leading philosophers of modern Europe, did not develop a distinctive philosophy of his own; rather, he integrated the contributions of previous philosophers, added his own concepts, and thereby produced a historical philosophical system. In this regard, Hegel can be compared to Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. He believed that historical sequence in the development of philosophy is extremely important in understanding the changing human mind.

Hegel is perhaps as important for the stimulation he provided his students as for his own writing. Inspired by Hegel, they produced significant work in the history of ideas, art, and religion. They also published many of their notes from Hegel’s classes.

Hegel was the son of a Stuttgart revenue officer. Before he entered the Stuttgart grammar school, his mother had taught him the rudiments of Latin, which was still a vital part of the European academic curriculum. As a student, Hegel kept a file of extracts on morals, mathematics, and other topics from newspapers and major literary works of the day.

At the age of eighteen, Hegel began his university studies at Tübingen. Although he studied theology, he devoted much more time to the study of philosophy. A contributing factor to this change of direction may have been a lifelong deficiency in oral exposition.

Leaving Tübingen in 1793 with no desire to enter the ministry, Hegel became a private tutor in Berne, Switzerland. During three years there, he spent his free time reading Greek and Roman classics as well as more recent writers such as the historian Edward Gibbon and the philosophers Baron Montesquieu and Immanuel Kant. Stimulated especially by Kant, Hegel wrote essays in which he tried to interpret Christianity according to Kant’s ideas. These essays were published more than a century later as part of Early Theological Writings.

In late 1796, Hegel moved to...

(The entire section is 812 words.)


(Survey of World Philosophers)

Article abstract: Hegel developed many philosophical theories that influenced the social sciences, anthropology, sociology, psychology, history, and political theory. He believed that the mind is the ultimate reality and that philosophy can restore humanity to a state of harmony.

Early Life

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born into a Protestant middle-class family in Stuttgart, the eldest of three children. His father was a minor civil servant for the Duchy of Württemberg, and his family had roots in Austria. To escape persecution by the Austrian Catholics in the sixteenth century, his ancestors settled among the Lutheran Protestants of the German territories, which consisted of...

(The entire section is 2476 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Althaus, Horst. Hegel: An Intellectual Biography. Translated by Michael Tarse. Malden, Mass.: Polity Press, 2000. First published in 1992. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Brown, Alison Leigh. On Hegel. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 2001. A volume in the Wadsworth Philosophers series. Includes bibliographical references.

Gillespie, Michael Allen. Hegel, Heidegger, and the Ground of History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. Compares and contrasts Hegel’s philosophy of history with that of Martin Heidegger, who sought an alternative to Hegel and eventually supported Nazi...

(The entire section is 426 words.)


(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

Author Profile

The political and ethical dimensions of Hegel’s philosophy grow out of his understanding of mind and dialectic.


In Hegel’s philosophy, mind (Geist in the original German) is defined as “absolute consciousness.” “Absolute,” in this usage, means “absolved” of relations to objects outside consciousness. As absolute consciousness, mind is consciousness of consciousness itself. The opposite concept, “relative consciousness,” is so called because it relates to objects outside itself.

Logic and Dialectic

Logic is traditionally understood to consist of unchanging rules that govern thought....

(The entire section is 1356 words.)