G.W.F. Hegel




Hegel Quotations


"The only Thought, which Philosophy brings... to the contemplation of History, is the simple conception of Reason; that Reason is the Sovereign of the world, that the history of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational process."

"Spirit is self-contained existence. Now this is Freedom, exactly. For if I am dependent, my being is referred to something which I am not; I cannot exist independently of something external. I am free, on the contrary, when my existence depends on myself."

"The History of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of Freedom... The destiny of the spiritual world, and... the final cause of the World at large, we claim to be Spirit's consciousness of its own freedom, and ipso facto, the reality of that freedom... This final aim is God's purpose with the world; but God is the absolutely perfect Being, and can, therefore, will nothing but himself."

"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State... For Truth is the unity of the universal and subjective will; and the Universal is to be found in the State, in its laws, its universal and rational arrangements. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth. We have in it, therefore, the object of history in a more definite shape than before; that in which Freedom obtains objectivity. For Law is the objectivity of the Spirit."

"The nation lives the same kind of life as the individual... in the enjoyment of itself, the satisfaction of being exactly what it desired to be,... [and in the consequent] abandonment of aspirations,... [the nation slips into a] merely customary life (like the watch wound up and going on of itself), into an activity without opposition. And this is what brings on its natural death. ... Thus perish individuals, and thus perish nations, by a natural death."

"What experience and history teach is this--that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it." Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction ( (1830), translated by H. B. Nisbet, (1975)) introduction

"In history, we are concerned with what has been and what is; in philosophy, however, we are concerned not with what belongs exclusively to the past or to the future, but with that which is, both now and eternally--in short, with reason." Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction ( (1830), translated by H. B. Nisbet, (1975)) p. 171


"The life of God—the life which the mind apprehends and enjoys as it rises to the absolute unity of all things—may be described as a play of love with itself; but this idea sinks to an edifying truism, or even to a platitude, when it does not embrace in it the earnestness, the pain, the patience, and labor, involved in the negative aspect of things."

"A party first truly shows itself to have won the victory when it breaks up into two parties: for so it proves that it contains in itself the principle with which at first it had to conflict, and thus that it has got beyond the one-sidedness which was incidental to its earliest expression. The interest that formerly divided itself between it and that to which it was opposed now falls entirely within itself, and the opposing principle is left behind and forgotten, just because it is represented by one of the sides in the new controversy that now occupies the minds of men. At the same time, it is to be observed that when the old principle thus reappears, it is no longer what it was before; for it is changed and purified by the higher element into which it is now taken up. In this point of view, that discord which appears at first to be a lamentable breach and dissolution of the unity of a party, is really the crowning proof of its success."


"The significance of that 'absolute commandment', know thyself--whether we look at it in itself or under the historical circumstances of its first utterance--is not to promote mere self-knowledge in respect of the particular capacities, character, propensities, and foibles of the single self. The knowledge it commands means that of man's genuine reality--of what is essentially and ultimately true and real--of spirit as the true and essential being."

"Each of the parts of philosophy is a philosophical whole, a circle rounded and complete in itself. In each of these parts, however, the philosophical Idea is found in a particular specificality or medium. The single circle, because it is a real totality, bursts through the limits imposed by its special medium, and gives rise to a wider circle. The whole of philosophy in this way resembles a circle of circles. The Idea appears in each single circle, but, at the same time, the whole Idea is constituted by the system of these peculiar phases, and each is a necessary member of the organisation."

"A philosophy without heart and a faith without intellect are abstractions from the true life of knowledge and faith. The man whom philosophy leaves cold, and the man whom real faith does not illuminate, may be assured that the fault lies in them, not in knowledge and faith. The former is still an alien to philosophy, the latter an alien to faith." (Encyclopedia Logic, Biographical Notice)

"The Philosophy of Nature takes up the material, prepared for it by physics out of experience, at the point to which physics has brought it, and again transforms it, without basing it ultimately on the authority of experience. Physics therefore must work into the hands of philosophy, so that the latter may translate into a true comprehension (Begriff) the abstract universal transmitted to it, showing how it issues from that comprehension as an intrinsically necessary whole. The philosophic way of putting the facts is no mere whim once in a way, by way of change, to walk on the head, after walking a long while on the legs, or once in a way to see our everyday face besmeared with paint. No; it is because the method of physics does not satisfy the comprehension that we have to go on further."(Encyclopedia Logic § 24)

"Not only must philosophy be in agreement with our empirical knowledge of Nature, but the origin and formation of the Philosophy of Nature presupposes and is conditioned by empirical physics. However, the course of a science's origin and the preliminaries of its construction are one thing, while the science itself is another. In the latter, the former can no longer appear as the foundation of the science; here, the foundation must be the necessity of the Concept."(§ 246 Encyclopedia Nature)

"Thus the heart is everywhere, and each part of the organism is only the specialized force of the heart itself."(Encyclopedia Nature - Animal organism - the systems of shape)


"Poetry is the universal art of the spirit which has become free in itself and which is not tied down for its realization to external sensuous material; instead, it launches out exclusively in the inner space and the inner time of ideas and feelings." Introduction to Aesthetics ( (1842), translated by T. M. Knox, (1979)) p. 89


"When philosophy paints its grey on grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy's grey on grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk." Philosophy of Right ( (1821), translated by T. M. Knox, (1952)) p. 13

"Civil society has the right and duty of superintending and influencing education, inasmuch as education bears upon the child's capacity to become a member of society. Society's right here is paramount over the arbitrary and contingent preferences of parents." Philosophy of Right ( (1821), translated by T. M. Knox, (1952)) sect. 239

"Thus to be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great or rational whether in life or in science. Great achievement is assured, however, of subsequent recognition and grateful acceptance by public opinion, which in due course will make it one of its own prejudices." Philosophy of Right ( (1821), translated by T. M. Knox, (1952)) sect. 318

"What is rational is actual and what is actual is rational. On this conviction the plain man like the philosopher takes his stand, and from it philosophy starts in its study of the universe of spirit as well as the universe of nature. If reflection, feeling, or whatever form subjective consciousness may take, looks upon the present as something vacuous and looks beyond it with the eyes of superior wisdom, it finds itself in a vacuum, and because it is actual only in the present, it is itself mere vacuity. If on the other hand the Idea passes for 'only an Idea', for something represented in an opinion, philosophy rejects such a view and shows that nothing is actual except the Idea. " (Philosophy of Right, Preface)


"The science of religion is one science within philosophy; indeed it is the final one. In that respect it presupposes the other philosophical disciplines and is therefore a result." (Philosopy of Religion [1827])

"The beginning of religion, more precisely its content, is the concept of religion itself, that God is the absolute truth, the truth of all things, and subjectively that religion alone is the absolutely true knoweldge." (Philosopy of Religion [1827])