Edward Caird's Hegel



THERE is very little to record of Hegel's outward life in the six years after he left the university. The first three were spent by him in the Swiss city of Berne, as tutor in an aristocratic family of the name of Von Tschugg; and the last three in a similar position in the house of a Frankfort merchant called Gogol. Of the special relations between Hegel and his employers or pupils we hear nothing; nor is anything of importance recorded of his various friends and acquaintances in Switzerland, though his biographer has printed the journal of an excursion which he made with two of them in the Bernese Oberland. A few letters from his friends Holderlin and Schelling kept him aware of the progress of the philosophical movement in Germany, and it was probably in order to get nearer the literary center that in 1796 he applied to Holderlin to help him to a situation in Frankfort. In one of his letters to Schelling he expresses an amused weariness of the petty plots and family cabala that made up the politics of the little aristocratic canton of Berne; and, no doubt, his strong political interest also made him desire to be in a letter position for observing the great events which were then changing the face of Germany and Europe. In Frankfort, besides, he had the society of his old friend Holderlin, and through him he was brought into close relations with another friend - a forgotten poet and philosopher called Sinclair - whose influence helped to draw him to the study of the Christian mystics, as well as of the romantic art and poetry of the middle ages.


As regards the development of Hegel's philosophy, however, these six uneventful years were the most important period of his life. It was his period of fermentation, in which the many elements of culture he had accumulated were obscurely conflicting and combining with each other, and in which the native character of his genius was gradually revealing itself in the new form which it gave to them. The process of accumulation still went on actively - as it went on through all his life - but it now began to be accompanied by a powerful effort to assimilate the matter accumulated, and to change the dead mass of information into the living tissue of thought. Hegel did not, indeed, as he said of Schelling, "carry on his studies in public," and it is only through the publication by his biographer of extracts from his early note-books that we are enabled to get below the rounded utterances of the master to the tentative sketches and imperfect studies of the learner. But no more instructive revelation of the secrets of intellectual growth can be found than in the words, sometimes obscure, but always powerful, and not seldom vividly imaginative, in which Hegel struggles for the expression of a thought which is yet inchoate, and, as it were, in process of germination. Some of the elements out of which that thought evolved itself have been already mentioned. These were the classical and especially the Greek literature on the one hand, and on the other the so-called Enlightenment of the eighteenth century.

This Enlightenment Hegel had received at first in school in its sober German form, - in the dry analysis and superficial criticism of the post-Wolffian age; but at the university he came to know it in its more intensive French form, which was to the German enlightenment as wine to water. Through Rousseau he proceeded next to Kant's ethical works - following in logical order the evolution of that idea of freedom which was the saving salt of the philosophy of the time. If we further remember that Hegel, educated for the Church, had not as yet ceased to look upon himself as a theologian, we shall not wonder that for several years after this his studies were chiefly directed to the more concrete and practical questions of religion and social ethics, rather than to the abstract metaphysical inquiries which were then mainly occupying the followers of Kant and Fichte. It is also noteworthy that the studies in which he sought for the means of answering these questions were primarily historical rather than philosophical; or became philosophical only through his persistent effort to comprehend and interpret history.

At first he was chiefly occupied with the history of religion, and especially with the origin of Christianity, and its connection with the Greek and Jewish religions; and while engaged with this subject he wrote a complete life of Christ, and a treatise on the relation of positive to rational religion. In these and other writings of this period, however, he always considered religion in close relation to the social and political life of nations; and in the Frankfort period, his theological studies gradually connected themselves with extensive inquiries into ethics, political economy, and finally, into the physical and natural sciences. At the same time this regressive movement of thought, as we may call it, led him to examine more fully the development of philosophy in Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. And in the last year of his stay in Frankfort he finally endeavored to gather up the result of his investigations in a systematic sketch of philosophy, of which, however, only the Logic and Metaphysic and the Philosophy of Nature were at that time completed.


We may best understand the process of formation through which Hegel's philosophy was going during these six years, if we keep hold of two leading conceptions which were always present to his mind. The one is the idea of freedom or self-determination; the other is the idea of man's life, natural and spiritual, as an organic unity of elements, which cannot be separated from each other without losing all their meaning and value. The former of these was the great principle of the eighteenth century, which was gradually being deepened and transformed in the writings of Rousseau, of Kant, and finally of Fichte. The latter revealed itself to Hegel in the first instance through the religious and political life of Greece.

His main difficulty was that these two equally essential ideas seemed to lead in different ways, and to be hardly capable of reconciliation with each other. With this difficulty we find Hegel wrestling in the first writing of his which bears the distinct mark of his genius; and it was the sting, and almost agony, of it which stimulated his unceasing researches in nearly every department of historical and scientific knowledge, and his equally unceasing efforts to penetrate into the inner meaning and uniting principle of the knowledge so acquired. Finally, it was as the solution of this difficulty that the central idea of his philosophy first revealed itself, and it was in constant reference to it that that idea was gradually worked out into a systematic view of the intelligible world in its relation to the intelligence. It is necessary for us, therefore, clearly to understand what these opposite tendencies involved, and how, in the thought of Hegel, they struggled with each other.


The principle of Freedom, as it was first asserted in the Reformation, involved an opposition of the inner to the outer life of man, of conscience to external authority, of the individual as self-determined in all his thought and action to all the influences and objects by which he is, or might be, determined from without. In thrusting aside the claim of the Church to place itself between the individual and God, Luther had proclaimed the emancipation of men not only from the leading-strings of the Church, but, in effect, from all external authority whatever, and even, in a sense, from all merely external teaching or revelation of the truth; for the principle which was announced in the first instance in reference to religion, the central truth of man's being, must inevitably make its way to the circumference, and affect all other elements of his life.

If the true knowledge of God be that which comes through the inner witness of the spirit, no other truth can ultimately be accepted in a different way. If the divine law, to which alone absolute submission is due, is revealed by an inward voice, which is one with the voice of our own conscience, no other lawful rule and authority can be merely external "We cannot recognize as real any object which is not brought into intelligible relation with our own immediate self-consciousness." We cannot recognize as just any command in obeying which we are not obeying our better self. Luther, therefore, had begun a "war of the liberation of humanity," which could not cease until everything foreign and alien, everything that was not seen to form a part of man's own inward life and being, was expelled from all relation to it, and even condemned as meaningless and unreal.

Sub hoc signo vincas. This is the controlling idea which has ruled the modern movement of civilization, and the name in which all its great speculative and practical victories have been won. This principle of freedom was, however, almost necessarily narrowed and distorted by the antagonism in which it first expressed itself. An idea which is used as a weapon of controversy, is on the way to losing its universality and to being turned into a half-truth. Thus the doctrine that nothing ultimately can have authority or even reality for man which is not capable of being made his own and identified with his very self, might be understood to mean that the truth of things is at once revealed to the undeveloped consciousness of the savage or the child, and that the immediate desires of the natural man are his highest law. In place of the duty of knowing for one's self, and of undergoing all the hard discipline, intellectual and moral, which is necessary in order to know, might be put an assertion of the "rights of private judgment," which was equivalent to the proclamation of an anarchy of individual opinion.

As the modern struggle for emancipation went on, this ambiguity of the new principle began to reveal itself ; and the claims which were first made for the "spiritual man"- i.e., for man in the infinite possibilities of his nature as a rational or self-conscious being, capable of an intellectual and moral life which takes him out of himself, and even of a religious experience which unites him to the infinite, - were reasserted on behalf of the "natural man," i.e., of man conceived merely as a finite individual - an atom set among other atoms in a finite world, and incapable of going beyond it, or even beyond himself, either in thought or action. Hence the strange contradiction which we find in the literature of the eighteenth century, which with one hand exalts the individual almost to a god, while with the other hand it seems to strip off the last veil that hides from him that he is a beast. The practical paradox, that the age in which the claims of humanity were most strongly asserted, is also the age in which human nature was reduced to its lowest terms, - that the age of tolerance, philanthropy, and enlightenment, was also the age of materialism, individualism, and skepticism, - is explicable only if we remember that both equally spring out of the negative form taken by the first assertion of human freedom.


As the individual thus fell back upon himself, throwing off all relations to that which seemed to be external, the specific religious and social ideas of earlier days lost power over him; and their place was taken by the abstract idea of God and the abstract idea of the equality and fraternity of men, - ideas which seemed to be higher and nobler because they were more general, but which for that very reason were emptied of all definite meaning, as well as of all vital power to hold in check the lusts and greed of man's lower nature. Thus the ambitious but vague proclamation of the religion of nature and the rights of man was closely associated with a theory which was reducing man to a mere animal individual, a mere subject of sensations and appetites, incapable either of religion or of morality. For an ethics which is more than a word, and a religion which is more than an aspiration, imply definite relations of men to each other and to God, and all such relations were now rejected as inconsistent with the freedom of the individual. The French Revolution was the practical demonstration that the mere general idea of religion is not a religion, and that the mere general idea of a social unity is not a state, but that such abstractions, inspiring as they may be as weapons of attack upon the old system, leave nothing behind to build up the new one, except the unchained passions of the natural man.


In Rousseau and Kant we find an attempt to develop this abstract principle of freedom into a social system, without altering its abstract or negative character. Rousseau, indeed, saw that the claims made in behalf of the individual must rest on something in him higher than his individual nature. Accordingly, he speaks of a raison commune and a volonte generale, which is different from the reason and the will of the individuals as such, and which makes them capable of association. But as he regards this universal reason and will merely as a common element in natures which are otherwise unlike each other, and not as a principle which binds them together by means of their very differences, he is unable to develop any organic conception of the social unity. Kant, in like manner, sees in the consciousness of self an element which is common to all men, and which makes community between them possible; and in the idea of self-determination - i.e., of a determination which is conformable to the nature of the self - he finds the principle of all morality. But as he also is unable to show any connection between this general idea and the desires and capacities which determine the particular relations of men to each other and to the world, his morality remains a soul without a body; and it is only by a mystification that he appears to be able to get beyond his general principle, and to derive particular laws of duty from it.

Now it is at this point that Hegel takes up the philosophical question. To him, as a son of the Protestant Aufklarung, the idea of freedom - the idea that in knowledge and action alike man must be self-determined, that he must find himself in the object he knows, and realize himself in the end to which he devotes himself - now and always remained axiomatic. In the university, when he was "an enthusiastic champion of liberty and fraternity," he accepted the idea in all the one-sidedness of its first revolutionary expression : and even some years afterwards, we find him writing in the same spirit to Schelling in reference to his account of the Fichtean exaltation of the ego over the non-ego. " I hold it one of the best signs of the times, that humanity has been presented to its own eyes as worthy of reverence. It is a proof that the nimbus is vanishing from the heads of the oppressors and gods of the earth. Philosophers are now proving the dignity of man, and the people will soon learn to feel it, and not merely to ask humbly for those rights of theirs which have been trampled in the dust, but to resume and appropriate them for themselves."

The revolutionary tone which shows itself in these words soon disappeared from Hegel's writing; but to the principle which underlies them - the rejection of any merely external limit to the thoughts and actions of men - he was always faithful, and it was one of the main grounds of his subsequent break with Schelling. And though, in the latter part of his life, Hegel is often supposed to have become politically a reactionary, and though he really did lean to the Conservative side in the immediate politics of Prussia, he never to any degree modified his belief that the principle of liberty is at the root of the political as of all the spiritual life of man. Thus, in one of his latest course of lectures, he declared that Luther, in asserting that each man must find the truth for himself, had laid down the guiding idea of all subsequent history. "Thus was raised the last banner around which the nations gather - the banner of the free spirit, which, in apprehending the truth, still abides with itself, and which, indeed, can only abide by itself as it apprehends the truth. This is the banner under which we serve, and which we carry." If Hegel, then, ever became in any sense an enemy of the Aufklarung, it was only on the ground of a deeper interpretation of that principle of freedom that gave the Aufklarung its power and value. His controversy with it, like his controversy with Kant and Fichte, was so frequent and unsparing only because he stood so close to it, and even, in a sense, on the very same ground with it. He could afford to be more charitable to those with whom he had less in common.


At the same time, while it is true that Hegel never swerved from the principle of liberty, it is also true that the philosophical impulse was first awakened within him in a recoil against the abstract and one-sided expression of that principle. Already, in the university, he had turned away with weariness from the platitudes of enlightenment. "He who has much to say of the incomprehensible stupidity of mankind, who elaborately demonstrates that it is the greatest folly for a people to have such prejudices, who has always on his tongue the watchwords of 'enlightenment,' ' knowledge of mankind,' 'progress and perfectibility of the species,' &c., is but a vain babbler of the Aufklarung, and a vendor of universal medicines,-one who feeds himself with empty words, and ignores the holy and tender web of human affections." Nor is Hegel much better satisfied with the abstract Kantian morality, though he does not yet see his way entirely to reject it. In the same spirit in which Aristotle objected to the Socratic doctrine that "virtue is knowledge," he points out that a real morality implies a habitual temper of mind, which cannot be artificially produced by mere teaching, but must be a living growth of character, evolved from the earliest years by the unconscious influence of a society in which religion, laws, and institutions are all molded by one spirit.

Referring to Kant's admission that a purely rational religion is an impossibility, he objects to his assertion that all that goes beyond the abstract morality of reason, all that is directed to satisfy the feelings and the heart, must be regarded as mere irrational fetish-worship. The feelings after all, Hegel urges, are not so alien to reason as Kant had supposed, "for love is the analogue of reason, in so far as it finds itself in other men; or rather, forgetting itself, finds another self in others in whom it lives, feels, and energizes-in the same way that reason, as the principle of universal laws, recognizes itself again in every rational being." Hence it is only by acting on the heart and the imagination that a character can be produced which is truly at one with reason; while a morality which addresses the understanding is incapable of any practical effect on the mass of men, and indeed tends to produce an irresolute scrupulous tone of mind which is the reverse of moral strength. "Men who are early bathed in the Dead Sea of moral platitudes come out of it invulnerable like Achilles, but with the human force washed out of them in the process."

What is the source of this violent reaction in Hegel's mind against the Kantian ideas? It is easy to see that the idea of a national religion which should harmonize the imagination and the heart with the reason, was derived by him from Greece. Greek life presented itself to Hegel as a solution of a problem which to Kant had only been approximately soluble,-the problem of combining the universal with the particular, the reason with the feelings. Greek religion was to him the type of a cult which is not merely a combination of rational religion with more or less of fetish-worship, but in which the ceremonial or symbolic element is brought into harmony with the rational.

Christianity, on the other hand, he at this time regarded as a moral failure, just because it did not combine with any specific national institutions so as to produce a living development of national character. It was a purely spiritual religion, which sought to influence men through the reason alone, and therefore it remained essentially a religion for individuals. "How light in the scale weigh the whole 'means of grace' worked by the Church, backed by the most full and learned explanations, when the passions, and the power of circumstances, of education, of example, and of the Government, are thrown into the opposite scale! The whole history of religion since the beginning of the Christian era combines to show that Christianity is a religion which can make men good, only if they are good already."


The thought first indicated in this way was followed out, and at once deepened and developed, in a number of theological papers written during Hegel's residence in Switzerland, which might be called "Studies of Jewish and Christian religion from a Greek point of view." Judaism was to Hegel the type of an unnatural religion, a religion of external law, which had no relation to the life of the people on whom it was imposed. The Jews, he maintained, were a nation whose advance from a lower to a higher form of social life had not been a process of natural development, but a violent change forced on them from without. The transition from the simple life of herdsmen to the complex order of the state had not in their case taken place, gradually and of itself, but through foreign influence. Driven forward by circumstances and by the ascendancy of a great man, they were forced into a struggle for national independence while yet no real capacity for political life had been formed in them.

"Their impulse toward independence was merely a craving for dependence on something of their own," and therefore, in independence they did not, like other nations, achieve for themselves a noble harmony of natural and spiritual life. They were confined by this narrow patriotism to a bare and almost animal existence, or rose above it only to become the fanatical victims of an abstraction. Their God was not a better self to which their life was drawn up, but an external Lord, whose worship divided them from nature, and even made them hate it. Hence their fate is no Greek tragedy which purifies the passions by terror and pity, for such emotions are called forth only "by the necessary error of a noble character." The Jewish tragedy rather excites horror and disgust, for their fate is "like the fate of Macbeth, who reached beyond nature, allied himself with alien powers, and slavishly worshipped beings not identified with himself; and who, after he had trampled under foot all that was holy in human nature, was necessarily abandoned by his gods, and broken in pieces on the very rock of his own faith." (Rosenkranz, p.492) [Ed. note: This was written before Hitler and the Holocaust, which shocked the whole world.]


Hegel then proceeds to compare the idea of law as presented in Judaism with the Greek idea of fate. Law is altogether indifferent to the individual; it fixes limits for him, and attaches to the transgression of those limits a penalty that nothing can avert. There is no possibility of reconciliation with the law; "the soul that sinneth, it shall die," -and in death there is no reconciliation. On the other hand, the word "fate" takes us into a different and more elevated circle of ideas. A man's fate is immediately connected with his own being; it is something which, indeed, he may fight against, but which is really a part of his own life. Hence, from that point of view, a crime committed by an individual is to be viewed as an outrage upon himself, and the doom which threatens him in consequence is not a mere punishment inflicted by a foreign hand, but the counterpart of his own deed. In slaying his victim, the murderer thinks he has removed an enemy, and enlarged his own life; but really it is one life that is in him and his victim, and in striking at another he has struck at himself. "What threatens him, therefore, as his fate, is just his own life made by his deed into a stranger and an enemy. This he cannot slay: it is immortal, and rises from its grave as an awful specter, a Clytemnestra which rouses the Eumenides against him; a Banquo's ghost "which is not annihilated by death, but the moment after takes its seat at the banquet, not as a sharer of the meal, but as an evil spirit for Macbeth."

Just this, however, that the penalty is not externally imposed by law, but is simply the fate of the criminal, the recoil of his deed upon himself, makes atonement possible. The guilty conscience of the criminal is his recognition that his own life is in that which he has tried to destroy, and hence it must pass into a longing regret for that which he has thus lost. The criminal, therefore, feels an awe before the fate that weighs upon him, which is quite different from the fear of punishment; for the fear of punishment is the fear of something foreign to him, and the prayers that would avert it are slavish. His fear of fate, on the other hand, is a terror before himself, a consciousness of the agony of divided life, and his prayers to it are not supplications to a master, but rather the beginning of a return to the estranged self. Hence, in this recognition of that which is lost as life, and as his own life, lies the possibility of the complete recovery of it. It is the beginning of that love in which life is restored to itself, and fate is reconciled-in which "the stings of conscience are blunted, and the evil spirit is expelled from the deed."


The idea of fate, however, is not necessarily connected with crime. It is not like the law which only punishes offences against a foreknown command. In the eye of fate all action is guilt, for it is necessarily one-sided; it has a special interest or object; it injures other equally vital interests or objects. By the very fact that a man acts, "he enters the arena of combat as power against power," and so subjects himself to fate. Nor by refraining from action can he escape the fate which overtakes the one-sidedness of action. " The valor that struggles is better than the weakness that endures; for though it fails, it knew beforehand the possibility of failure, and consciously made itself liable to it, while suffering passivity is merely caught in its defect, and does not oppose a fullness of energy to it." But neither activity nor passivity can escape its fate. There is, however, still another higher way-a way which combines in one the activity that combats and the patience that endures-the way of Christ, and of all those who have been called " beautiful souls." Such souls follow the path of suffering, in so far as they abandon all their personal rights, and refuse to contend for them; but they pursue also the path of valor, in so far as they rise above this loss of particular right and interest, and feel no pain in it. Thus they save their lives in losing them, or assert themselves just when they let go everything with which immediately their life seemed to be identified.

Fate cannot wound such spirits, for, "like the sensitive plant, they withdraw at a touch into themselves," and escape from the life in which they could be injured. "So Jesus demanded of his friends that they should forsake father and mother, and all that they had, in order that they might not be bound by any tie to the unhallowed world, and so be brought within the reach of fate. ' If any one take thy coat, let him. have thy cloak also;' ' If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off.'" Further: "A soul that is thus lifted above all regard for it rights, and disentangled from everything objective, has nothing to forgive to him who injures it. It is ready for reconciliation, capable at once of entering again into vital relations of love and friendship with him," for whatever he may have done, he cannot have injured it. It has nothing even of that "righteous wrath, that conscientious hate which springs from a sense of wrong, not to the individual, but to justice. For such righteous hate, while it sets up certain duties and rights as absolute, and refuses forgiveness to him who has violated them, takes away from itself the possibility of receiving forgiveness for its own errors, or of being reconciled with the fate that springs from them." Forgiveness of sins, therefore, is not the removal of punishment, for punishment cannot be avoided; nor is it the removal of the consciousness of guilt, for the deed cannot be undone; it is "fate reconciled by love." (Rosenkranz, p. 497.)

On this view, the spirit of Christ is the spirit which withdraws out of the conflict, letting drop every particular interest, and thus, in its universality and freedom, escaping all the claims of the finite. It is reconciled to every fate, and has forgiven every enemy. But just here, as Hegel thinks, lies its limit and imperfection. "Jesus has the guilt of innocence, and his elevation above every fate brings with it the most unhappy of fates." The meaning of this somewhat obscure utterance is that as Christ purchased reconciliation by withdrawing out of the sphere in which private interests and rights conflict with each other, his very negation of these becomes a limit to him. All sides are against him who does not strike for any side. Priest and magistrate, Pharisee and Sadducee, unite against him who is above their divisions, and does not recognize as vital any of the interests for which they are contending. His very withdrawal from the sphere of battle is the source of a more bitter hostility, and makes his people reject him, and turn from his doctrine to a desperate struggle for the narrow ideal of national life. His teaching, indeed, is eagerly accepted by other men who have no share in the fate of the Jewish nationality; but with them, too, it remains incapable of being brought into unity with any of the finite interests of life.

The unity of love reached by the negation of all particular rights and duties remains incapable of expansion into any new order of secular life; and as it cannot become the principle of the life of the world, it is obliged to fall back on the spiritual unity of the Church - a society of men withdrawn from the world, and living solely for this concentrated life of devotional feeling. "Beyond the relation that arises out of the common faith, and the manifestation of this community in appropriate religious acts, the Christian Church remains incapable of any objective aim-incapable of cooperation for any other end than the spread of the faith, and incapable of finding expression or satisfaction in any of the various manifestations and partial forms of our manifold life. For in following any other direction, it could not recognize itself: it would have forsaken the pure love which is its sole spirit, and have become untrue to its God.

This limitation of love to itself, this flight from all forms, even if its own spirit were breathing in them, this removal from all fate, is its greatest fate; and this is the point at which Jesus is connected with fate, and, in the sublimest way indeed, suffers from it." Hence, also, the ever-dubious attitude of the Church to the world, never able either to divide itself from it - since love is supposed to be the universal principle; nor to reconcile itself with it - for love is not able to enter into its particular and finite relations. "Between the extremes of friendship, hate, and indifference to the world, the Christian consciousness has gone backwards and forwards; but it is its fate that Church and State, divine service and life, piety and virtue, can never for it melt into one."

The result is, then, that Christianity produces, or indicates, an unhealthy division between religion and life. It does not solve the problem, which, in its way, the Greek religion, inasmuch as it simply idealized the actual forces of the political life, proved itself competent to solve. " To the Greek, the idea of his fatherland, his State, was the invisible, the higher reality, for which he labored, and which formed his persistent motive. This was his end and aim of the world, or the end and aim of his world, which he found expressed in reality, and which he himself helped to express and to maintain.

In comparison with this idea, his own individuality was as nothing: it was its endurance - its continued life - that he sought, and this he was himself able to realize. To desire or pray for permanence or eternal life for him-self as an individual, could not occur to him; or, at least, it was only in moments of inaction, and despondency that he could feel a stronger wish and relation to his individual self. Cato did not turn for comfort to Plato's " Phaedo," till that which had hitherto been for him the highest order of things- his world, his republic-was destroyed: then only did he take refuge in a yet higher order." Religion, in short, was to the ancients simply the idealization of the actual powers of man's life-of the higher passions that moved him- of the ideal interests of the social and political life in which he lived. Rome, however, in conquering the nations, put an end to this religion of free citizens, whose highest was within their own grasp. It turned the State from an organic unity of life, which took up into itself the whole being of its citizens, into a dead mechanism of government, externally applied to a powerless mass of subjects. "Then death must have become terrible to the citizen, because nothing of his own survived him; whereas the republic survived the republican, and he could cherish the thought that it- his soul-was eternal."

After this time, greater demands began to be made upon religion, and the imperfect human-like gods, which had been sufficient for the imagination so long as human life itself was so full of divinity, could no longer satisfy the cravings of the spirit. "The spirit of man could not cease to seek somewhere for the absolute, for independence, for power; and as this was no longer to be met with in the will of man, it had to be found in the God of Christianity-a God who was lifted beyond the sphere of the powers and will of man, yet not beyond reach of his prayers and cries; for the realization of a moral idea could now only be wished,- it could no longer be willed." The divine kingdom, however, which, it was at first hoped, would be realized immediately, had soon to be put off to the end of the world.

"In fact, so soon as the realization of an idea is put beyond the limits of human power, it does not matter how far off it is placed; and the further it was removed, with the more wonderful colors could it be painted by the oriental imagination." But this separation of God from man has had fatal effects. "The objectivity of God has gone hand in hand with the slavery and corruption of man." While there was a living organization of society, the social life of man was itself regarded as a manifestation of the divine, and God was simply the better self of His worshippers; but when national life disappeared, and the Church took the place of the State, man became in his own eyes a non-ego, and his God was another. "It has been left for our day," says Hegel, in the spirit of some of his later followers of the Left, "to challenge again as the property of man the treasures that were formerly squandered upon heaven - to challenge them at least in theory. But what age will have the courage and energy to make this right a reality, and to set man actually in possession of his own." (Haym, p. 471 et seq.)


We see here the compromise between the different tendencies contending within him, in which Hegel for the time found satisfaction. On the one hand he holds to the principle of freedom, and echoes the latest interpretation of it by Fichte, who at this time regarded the choice between idealism and realism-between the doctrine that the ego produces the non-ego, and the doctrine that the non-ego produces the ego-as a test of moral character. A quite consistent philosophy, Fichte allowed, might be developed in both ways, both on the realist and on the idealist hypothesis; but he who was free in spirit would find the explanation of the world in freedom, and he who was a slave at heart would find it in necessity.

Hegel, in the main, accepts this language of Fichte, but he does not draw the line between self and not-self at the point where Fichte draws it. To Fichte as to Kant, the State was still an external combination of individuals, a thing of outward order, while morality was confined entirely to the inner life. But to Hegel, filled with the spirit of Greek literature, the social life of the State could not be a thing external or indifferent to the moral life of the individual ; rather it was the truer self, in which and for which the individual was bound to live, and with which he was so intimately identified that, while it survived, he need not think of any personal immortality.

It was only outside of this intimate circle that the "cold world" lay, which was really external and objective. Hence Hegel did not regard the Greek political life as involving any sacrifice of the freedom of the individual, but rather as the realization of that freedom ; and Greek religion was to him a "subjective" religion, whose gods only imaginatively and for a moment drew their worshipper away from the center of his own life, but were immediately recognized as powers that are working in his own will and thought.

It is only to Christianity - which he regards as a religion of pure undeveloped love, and, therefore, as a religion of the other world - that Hegel applies the Fichtean condemnation of an "objective" religion, a worship of the non-ego, a religion inconsistent with the freedom of man. Hence he describes the revolt against Christianity and the new idealistic philosophy as a reclaiming for man of the treasures he has lavished upon God; and in a poem addressed to Holderlin, Hegel declares that the desecrated altars of Eleusis are being reared again by the initiated in their own hearts. How the new revival was to differ from the old Greek type, he does not say. Christianity, at least, he seems at this time to regard as essentially bound up with the medieval dualism, and therefore as not containing in itself the principle of a new life.


The transition from this to a higher point of view seems to have taken place in the beginning of Hegel's residence at Frankfort, and in connection with a remarkable change of language which we find in his papers written about that time. In Switzerland he had used the words "life" and "love" to express the highest kind of social unity; now he substitutes the word " spirit." This is no mere verbal change. The word " life " suggests the idea of an organic unity, and the word "love" implies that the members of that unity are conscious beings- conscious of the social organism in which they merge their separate existence, and conscious also of themselves, were it only in the moment of self-surrender by which they give themselves up to that organism. In these terms, therefore, Hegel found a means of expressing that social unity of which the Greek State was to him the type-a unity of individuals who regarded themselves not as isolated persons, but simply as citizens whose life was in the State, and who had no personality apart from it. In such a social unity the idea of self is involved, but it is not emphasized; the division of self-conscious individuals disappears like the separateness of notes in a harmony.

" Love took up the harp of life, and smote on all the chords with might,
Smote the chord of self, which, trembling, passed in music out of sight."


But the term "spirit," or "spiritual unity," seems to convey - and in Hegel's language always conveys - the idea of antagonism overcome, contradiction reconciled, unity reached through the struggle and conflict of elements, which, in the first aspect of them, are opposed to each other. It was, therefore, the appropriate expression for a unity between the mind and the object which is contrasted with it, between mind and matter, or between different self-conscious subjects, each of whom has a complete consciousness of his own independent rights and personality. Such a unity can never be, in Hegel's language, immediate-i.e., can never be ready-made from the first, but always involves a process by which difference is overcome, and opposition transformed into agreement. Nor can this be a merely natural process-i.e., a process in which the opposition melts away without being heard of. Either it is a process which begins with a distinct consciousness of independence to be renounced, of opposition to be overcome, and which involves, therefore, an explicit surrender of independence, a conscious reconciliation of the opposition.

This use of the term "spirit," in fact, indicates that the Greek ideal was becoming unsatisfactory to Hegel, as being an incomplete solution of his primary difficulty of the connection of the universal and particular. Hitherto Hegel's criticism of Kant's abstract opposition of reason and passion had been practically this,-that though diverse they were capable of coincidence, and that the Greeks had actually solved the problem of harmonizing them. But the unity so attained was, as Hegel now saw, exceptional and transitory, the product of specially favorable circumstances and of a peculiar national genius. For the Greek State, and the ethical harmony of life realized in it, could be regarded only as the creation of a people of artists, which, by a combination of skill and good fortune, had for once molded the untoward matter of human existence into a political work of art. But such an achievement, like other works of art, is valuable mainly as an earnest of something more universal.

"Poetic justice" is an exceptional thing out of poetry, because, in the entanglement of human affairs, we cannot easily find a small circle of events which forms a whole by itself, and in which the ideal law is clearly revealed. But the value of the exception is that it points to such a law. Beauty is an accidental or momentary coincidence of the universal and the particular, of understanding and sense, and an earnest of their complete reconciliation. If, however, we are to apply the idea of organic unity to the world, if we are to regard man as capable of achieving such a unity in his own life, we cannot he satisfied with such a partial and accidental meeting of ideal and real, of the inner and the outer life. We must not think of man as struggling with an external power which occasionally yields him a partial victory. We must be able to see that there is a harmony or unity between the inward and the outward which is deeper than all their antagonism, and which is realizing itself even when that antagonism seems to be greatest.

It must be shown not merely that the ego gains an occasional victory over the non-ego, but that, in spite of all their apparent opposition, it is one principle which is manifesting itself in non-ego and ego alike. If, therefore, the idea of organic unity was to be used, as Hegel sought to use it, to supplement and correct the abstract idea of freedom expressed by Kant and Fichte, it was necessary to give it a more extended and difficult application than Hegel had hitherto attempted. It was no longer enough for him to say that there are organisms in the world- natural and spiritual organisms - but the whole world must be conceived as itself an organism. That poetic or artistic products exist or are achieved by man both in art and in life was no longer all that was wanted: it was necessary that all nature and history should be seen to have the unity of a poem.

But obviously this new demand involves far greater difficulties than have yet been considered. If all the world is to be conceived as poetic, - our poetry must find room for much which to the immediate eye of imagination is un-poetic and vulgar. If nature is to be taken as an organism, it must at least be recognized that it has parts in it which, regarded in themselves, are inorganic. If all things are members in a living whole, the life that animates that whole must have a wider definition,-it must be a life which comprehends even death itself. Pain, disharmony, and evil, must be seen to be incapable of breaking through the all-embracing unity, and even to be themselves the means of realizing it. Unreason itself must find a place, were it only a place to annihilate itself, under the universal rule of reason, which impartially rains its fertilizing showers upon the evil and the good, and stimulates each in turn to show what is in it; since just in this impartiality lies the security for the triumph of good. In such a theory optimism must be reached not by the exclusion but by the exhaustion of pessimism: the ultimate affirmation of philosophy must include in itself and overcome all the negations and contradictions of skepticism.

At first it would seem as if the problem so stated must be regarded as insoluble; for what is required is no less than to find a principle of unity adequate to the reconciliation of the strongest antagonisms and contradictions which language can express. And is not that almost like asking that words should be deprived of all their meaning? Yet, on the other hand, if the world is to be conceived as a rational system, if the particular is to be combined in organic unity with the universal, if man is in any sense to be regarded as free in spite of the limiting conditions under which nature seems to bring him, the discovery of such a principle is a necessity. Fichte, against his will, proved that it is impossible to view the inner life of the subject as a rational system in itself, unless the object also were brought within the compass of that system. He tried, indeed, to escape this necessary consequence by treating the connection of the ego with the non-ego as a purely negative relation. But a negative relation is still a relation. The self is bound up in one whole with that not-self to which it is opposed, and unless that also can be regarded as in some sense rational, there can be no rational system at all.

Hegel seems at first to have faltered before the problem of philosophy thus presented to him, and to have felt inclined to take refuge from its difficulty-as Schelling afterwards took refuge-in a religious intuition or feeling of the unity of all things,-an intuition to which thought might lead up, but in which its activity must disappear. In other words, he seems to have held for a short time that reason is unable itself to rise above the oppositions and contradictions of things, though it is able to see that there is a limit to such oppositions, and that there is an absolute unity lying beyond them. " Philosophy must end in religion, because philosophy is thought, and thought always involves finitude and opposition,-e.g., the oppositions of subject and object, and of the mind that thinks to matter that does not think. Its business, therefore, is to show the finitude of all that is finite, and through reason to demand its complement or completion in the infinite." (Rosenkranz, p. 96.)

But this solution seems to have been only a moment of transition in Hegel's philosophical development. If reason can discern that there is a unity in which all difference is lost, it must be able to see what that unity is; for the perception of limits is possible only to one who can see beyond them. The reason that looks through all oppositions of things to their unity, must be able to grasp that unity and to cast the light of it upon these very oppositions. If even Schelling could not rest in the assertion that the artistic or religious intuition is the highest apprehension of truth, but was driven, with some inconsequence, to attempt to reconstruct the world from the point of view so reached, still less could Hegel be content to view philosophy as a process which ends in the absolute unity, and does not give rise to any new consciousness of finite things in relation to that unity. And the word which was to be the key-note of this new interpretation of things sub specie aeternitatis has already been named. The world may still be conceived as an organic unity, in spite of its extreme division and antagonism, because it is spiritual, or the revelation of spirit. For a spiritual unity is a unity which can endure the extremes! antagonism and conflict-nay, it is a unity which can be realized only through such conflict.

The very existence of a spirit is a perpetual proof of the unity of opposites. "When we consider how a spiritual being grows and realizes itself, we see that it is by a perpetual process of self-denial. Intellectually it can develop its powers only by going out of itself ; by yielding to impressions from without; by persistently occupying itself with the not-self-the world of objects ; and without such occupation with the external, it could not even be conscious of itself. And if we regard the practical life of such a being, we have to give a similar account of it. For all moral growth consists in learning to go out of self, and so to take a wider life into our own. It begins, therefore, in the negation of immediate desires and appetites which, if they were suffered directly to assert themselves, would assuredly defeat their own ends. It is only as the individual gets beyond such particular impulses, and forms in himself a will which has regard to something more general,-a will which acts from the point of view of the family, of the state, or of humanity, or at least a will which looks to some objective interest or end,-that he can be said to have a will of his own at all.

Spiritual life is thus essentially a process of transcending and overcoming those very oppositions which seem to be of the most intense and absolute character-the oppositions of subject and object, mind and matter, internal and external; it is, in the Kantian phrase, a "nest of contradictions," and yet this does not destroy its unity with itself. If, therefore, we regard the ultimate unity as a spiritual principle, there is good hope that we may find in it a key to the antagonism and conflict of things, and may be enabled to see in the world not a mere wilderness and chaos of opposing powers, or the Manichsean dualism of an absolute good and an absolute evil, but a rational order or system, an organic unity in which every member has its place and function.


Such a system we find Hegel seeking to develop for himself in the years 1799-1800, the last two years of his residence in Frankfort. The peculiarities of this first outline of his philosophy it is unnecessary here to consider: what has been already said may be sufficient to show that in it Hegel was now seeking to develop his characteristic idea, that the highest unity is to be reached only through the full development and reconciliation of the deepest and widest antagonism. Some such conception was already involved in the threefold movement of thought by thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, which had been suggested by Kant, and developed, though in a somewhat imperfect and external way, by Fichte and Schelling. Hegel distinguishes himself from both, even in this early sketch, by the firmness with which he grasps the idea of the unity of opposites, not as an external synthesis, but as a result of the necessary evolution of thought by means of an antagonism which thought itself produces and reconciles.

The farther explanation of this process must, however, be postponed till a later chapter. Here it need only be remarked that Hegel has already, though with some hesitation and uncertainty, marked out the general threefold division of his system, which corresponds to the three elements or movements just mentioned. The first part of the system consists of a Logic and a Metaphysic-which, however, are not yet completely identified by Hegel, as they were at a later period; the second is a Philosophy of Nature; and the third, which was not worked out in the Frankfort sketch, is the Philosophy of Spirit.

One other point, the full consideration of which must also be reserved for a future chapter, may be mentioned here. It is that, with the rise of this new idea of spirit as the unity of all differences, Hegel's attitude towards Christianity was completely changed. For in the central moral principle of Christianity, the principle of self-realization through self-sacrifice, he found just that movement through negation to affirmation, through opposition to reconciliation, which he was seeking. Or rather, perhaps we should say that it was Hegel's study of Christianity, assisted by the contemporary development of philosophy, which first suggested to him the idea of that movement.


Hence if we should seek to gather up the Hegelian philosophy in a sentence, as a Frenchman once asked Hegel to do, it would he this: that the words " die to live" express not only the dialectic of morals, but the universal principle of philosophy. For if these words truly express the nature of spiritual life, then in spirit may he found a unity which will account for and overcome all the antagonisms of life and thought. The full meaning of this statement, however, is not to be seen without many explanations which cannot as yet be given.