Thursday, February 5, 2009

"reasoning" (hah) through Hegel

Hegel begins his Introduction to the Philosophy of History by noting there are different ways of doing history. The first, Original History, being the simplest, is focused on writing about the time period being talked about within that time. This is the primary source of history since it is where we get accounts and reports of events, speeches, and ideas that occurred through time. The second form, Reflective History, delves a bit deeper, trying to uncover what the past means to our current state of affairs. This is highly influenced in how we perceive (and how we ought to perceive) history to have happened, and their roles as they continue to influence the present. The final method, or Philosophic History, occurs through a thoughtful consideration of history. This is what Hegel wishes to write about, tackling the issue of what we have been given as historical fact and asking questions such as "What is the proper approach for philosophizing about history?".

This leads us to the next chapter where Hegel states that history must, or at least can, be philosophized as a "thought of Reason". Hegel points out that reason pretty much rules the world citing that all philosophy is based upon reason being both the substance and the infinite power of all reality. If one thinks through reason then one must therefore conclude with a reasonable thought (it is impossible to come to an irrational conclusion if one is thinking reasonably, since it would become an apparent contradiction to be reasonably irrational).

Following this train of thought, reason must then state that history must have a nature that is, at its heart, unchanging, or a "World Spirit". He gives us 2 reasons for this to be true. A. Reason rules the world, ex. the universe is governed by laws, and B. The world isn't ruled by chance, but rather by providence (though I don't completely understand what providence is...). And then..........he completely lost me when he started mentioning God (particularly pages 16-18). I feel like Hegel is trying to explain history as a logical sequence of events history is not just one thing happening after the other. The argument so far, is compelling, I must admit, but how can he know that the universe really is rational? I am open to the possibility, but couldn't the universe be completely irrational as well? Maybe this is why he tries to ground it in God, by trying to state that God is good and would never make an irrational universe.

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