Dialectic And History In Hegelian Thought

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




The reactions to Hegel's lectures on the Philosophy of World History are various. Some thinkers are outraged by his seemingly narrowminded, religious approach to history, while others praise the merits of the work as a theodicy. Overall, in modern times, the reaction has been negative, for modern science disdains talk of final causes altogether, so that the merest mention of such is enough to falsify any endeavour from the start. Hegel's philosophy of history is usually seen in this light--as a system of history wherein the absolute goal, which gives meaning to the entire process, lies itself outside of history, controlling such in the form of Reason, or God. Such a view cannot be correct in light of the Hegelian system; or, rather, cannot be Hegel's final position concerning world history. In this dissertation the movement of the Hegelian dialectic is examined, not only as it applies to history, but to the entire scope of the system.Chapter one introduces philosophical history by means of a discussion of the dialectical movement within the varieties of history discussed by Hegel in his introduction. Hegel's introduction is important in that it is the only primary material within his lectures on world history (all the rest being composed of student's notes). In chapter two several concepts important within Hegel's philosophy of history are discussed. This chapter, too, is introductory to some extent in that it familiarizes one with the concepts involved and attempts to explain them; yet complete understanding must await explication of Hegel's logical system. This final explication is begun in chapter three, wherein the movement of the dialectic is examined with respect to specific abstract concepts in Hegel's logic. In the fourth chapter the movement of the Hegelian logic is explicitly related to Hegel's philosophy of history, beginning first with an Hegelian interpretation of Kant and an explication of Hegel's treatment of teleology, and finally leading back to a discussion of the concepts of world history.



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