Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher and last great figure of German idealism. He made his impact on leftist theory mainly through his influence on the Young Hegelians, among which Karl Marx is the most prominent figure.

Hegel's Method

Hegel's philosophy is notoriously difficult to get a handle on, partially because of his insistence to show how thoughts move by themselves, apart from the subjective considerations of the thinker. This method he called objective logic, opposed to the merely subjective logic that thinkers like Aristotle had developed before him, and that after him became mathematically formalized. More recently, attempts have been made to make sense of Hegelian logic within the framework of modern mathematics. This is done mainly through the application of the abstract nonsense that is category theory, another notoriously difficult and abstract field of study. Work of this sort is collected on the nLab.

Further complicating things is Hegel's insistence that philosophy has to be understood as a whole. To understand a philosophical work one cannot focus merely on the starting point, the method, or the results, since it is exactly the unfolding of an argument that contains the meat of it.[1] Similarly, while Hegel is arguably the first great historicist thinker, he warns us that you cannot simply compare and contrast different philosophical works, but have to understand how they all fit together into a historical unfolding of truth.[1]

His method is regularly said to propagate according to a thesis-antithesis-synthesis triad. While triads are ubiquitous throughout Hegel's system, barely any instances of this formula can be found. They certainly aren't terms Hegel proposed himself, and are rather to be found in Fichte's philosophy.

German Idealism

German idealism was a German philosophical movement that originated with the system proposed by Immanuel Kant. After Kant, it comprises three great philosophers, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Schelling and Hegel.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Phenomenology of Spirit, preface §2 and §3.