Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich


Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich

biographical name

(born Aug. 27, 1770, Stuttgart, Württemberg—died Nov. 14, 1831, Berlin) German philosopher. After working as a tutor, he was headmaster of the gymnasium at Nürnberg (1808–16); he then taught principally at the University of Berlin (1818–31). His work, following on that of Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and F.W. Schelling, marks the pinnacle of post-Kantian German idealism. Inspired by Christian insights and possessing a fantastic fund of concrete knowledge, Hegel found a place for everything—logical, natural, human, and divine—in a dialectical scheme that repeatedly swung from thesis to antithesis and back again to a higher and richer synthesis. His panoramic system engaged philosophy in the consideration of all the problems of history and culture, none of which could any longer be deemed foreign to its competence. At the same time, it deprived all the implicated elements and problems of their autonomy, reducing them to symbolic manifestations of the one process, that of the Absolute Spirit's quest for and conquest of its own self. His influence has been as fertile in the critical reactions he precipitated as in his positive impact. His principal works are Phenomenology of Mind (1807), Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1817), and Philosophy of Right (1821). He is regarded as the last of the great philosophical system builders. See also Hegelianism.

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