Monday, February 16, 2009

History Confronting Itself

Hegel cuts many phases and events in “world history” out by saying “Only in the changes that occur in the realm of Spirit is there anything new [/real]” (57). I understand and identify with Hegel’s idea that the development of history, a process of determination, consists of the Spirit overcoming itself as its own enemy and therefore arriving at a truer concept of itself. I interpret Hegel as saying this can happen on the individual scale and in State as a whole. Each state has its own stage of determination and differentiation in which it “posits determinations in itself, then negates them, and thereby gains in this negation an affirmative, richer, and more concrete determination” (67). Although a simplified example, I think of the American Civil War as an example of this process/progress, in which the “state” itself struggled against itself to more deeply realize its inner consciousness/identity. History is made up of these stages of differentiation, or Volksgeist.
I think I understand Hegel saying that a state is a meaningful part of history when its will is congruous with the will of the Spirit. The spirit of the State can be in alignment with the World Spirit; the subjective events can combine with the objective narration. But it seems that this is where history (in memory or recorded) has the potential to be erroneous and even made up, since it seems very rare that a leader or state’s will and consciousness is aligned with the true narration of the Spirit’s self-consciousness of freedom. When a community or authority has an interest or purpose that is incongruous with the will of the Spirit it would change the mnemosyne; it would have an inaccurate memory of its past, present and future and thereby change the course of events bringing it down a dangerous path.

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