When we read a thinker like G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) one way of interpreting his writings is to think about who Hegel is in dialogue with. Who is he thinking about when he was writing? For example, is he arguing against Kant's position or some one else? When he is writing about Being is he thinking about Parmenides? Who is Hegel in dialogue with?
Hegel often makes references to well known philosophers like Kant, Leibniz, Spinoza, Plato, and Aristotle. But let us look at one of Hegel's major writing. In one the first footnotes in Hegel's Science of Logic (Introduction), there are footnotes to the System of Logic (System der Logik: ein Handbuch für Lehrer und zum Selbstgebrauch, published in 1811) by Jacob Friedrich Fries (1773-1843) (et p.52). Another philosopher that is mentioned early in Hegel's book, in the section on Being, is a reference to Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819), his Treatise on the Undertaking of the Critical Philosophy to Bring Reason to Understanding. Jacobi gets a number of quotes and footnotes in this section (et p.95-7). Do you know who Fries and Jacobi were in the history of philosophy?
Who are these lesser known philosophers? Are they important for understanding Hegel? Most of the lesser known philosophers are philosophers who lived and wrote as the same time as Hegel, but who did not become well known. Although at the time, they may have been read by many and well known. In a sense most of them are only footnotes in history books now.
One example is F.W.J. Schelling (1775-1854) who was well known at the time. However, in the twentieth century we have philosophers like Bertrand Russell's, in his book on the history of philosophy (A history of Western Philosophy) he makes the following remark, "His (Fichte) immediate successor Schelling as more amiable, but not less subjective. He was closely associated with the German romantics; philosophically, though famous in his day, he is not important." (p.718). So, for some philosophers Schelling lands in the dustbins of history. On the other hand, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) said this about Schelling, "Schelling is the truly creative and boldest thinker of this whole age of German philosophy". (Schelling's treatise on the essence of human freedom, p. 4). Heidegger ranks Schelling above Hegel and Fichte.
Some of these philosophers published just before Hegel time and were connected
with the flowering of Kant's philosophy. A primary example during Hegel's time
is Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788), who was well known during this period. Hamann
was one of Kant's closes friends and yet, Kant argued against him in a number
of publications. Hamann has an irrationalistic theory of faith and in general
was against Englightment. It is historically interesting that Hegel toward end
of his life in 1828 is writing about "Hamann's Writings" in
the Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik, which is some
forty years after Hamann death. But obviously Hamann is not as well known some
two hundred years later. Johann Georg Hamann (1730-1788), one person who wrote
about him said,
" 'magus of the north', a Protestant mystic who disliked the
analytical rationalism of the Enlightenment and saw more
creative power in feeling, language, and especially poetry,
the 'mother-tongue of the human race'"
Schelling is more well known today than Hamann, but nether of them are as famous as Kant or Hegel.
There are also a group of philosophers that people think Hegel is making reference to with certain expressions. For example, there is a recent article by George Di-Giovanni where he argues the phrase that Hegel uses in the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit, " producing the Absolute at once, as if from a pistol', is intended for Jakob Fries; rather than, as normally assumed, for Schelling.
However, first we need to a short review of the:
In July of 1780 Gotthold Lessing supposedly told Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819) that he was some kind of a Spinozist. After Lessing died, then Jacobi starting exchanging letters with Mendelssohn about Lessing confession about being a follower of Spinoza. Spinozism is also linked with the position of Pantheism. Mendelssohn was getting ready to publish a book called Morning Hours about Pantheism, so Jacobi heard about Mendelssohn book and he rushed to publication a book of their letters called On the Doctrine of Spinoza in Letters to Mr. Mendelssohn (1785).
Jacobi basic position was that Spinoza's Substance led to rationalism and rationalism leads to Pantheism, and Pantheism leads to atheism. On the other side, Jacobi position leads to faith. So, Jacobi wanted philosophers to decide on which side they were on with regards to the two horns of the dilemma. Either you are with reason or faith. In a sense it was either rationalism/atheism or theology. Which do you choose?
As Alfred Denker explains in his article "Three Men Standing over a Dead Dog. The Absolute as Fundamental Problem of German Idealism" with rationalism you can explain the world but you have the burden of determinism and fatalism.
Kant was drawn into the debate and published a short article called "What does it mean to orient oneself in thinking" (October 1786). Kant took Mendelssohn side in the debate, but developed his position through rational faith on moral and some might say religious grounds. He tried to include faith. Remember the famous remark of Kant's in the Critique of Pure Reason, "Thus I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith " (CPR, Bxxx).
Following Alfred Denker again, Jacobi's critical analysis leads German Idealism to the thorny woods of the Absolute (the unconditioned) and Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel all had to come up with a respond to Jacobi's charge of Pantheism. So, the stage was set and the philosophers had to respond.
Hegel wrote essays or reviews about a number of philosophers who were his contemporaries. Some are more famous than others and some were to become famous after Hegel's death. This is a brief review of many of Hegel's contemporaries and philosophers that Hegel is in dialogue with.
Fichte developed his own system of transcendental idealism, the Theory of Science (Wissenschaftslehre, 1796). Hegel says, "He wrote a treatise on Religion, termed a "Critique of all Revelation," where the Kantian phraseology is employed throughout - so much so that it was thought to be the work of Kant." (History of Philosophy). Hegel then summaries his attack on Fichte with the following argument against Fichte, Hegel said,
The Fichtian standpoint of subjectivity has thus retained its character of
being unphilosophically worked out, and arrived at its completion in forms pertaining
to sensation which in part remained within the Fichtian principle, while they
were in part the effort - futile though it was - to go beyond the subjectivity
of the ego.
(History of Philosophy)
In the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel spoke of "Philosophy as Science (or in German - Wissenschaft)" This is following Kant and Fichte. In addition, in the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel spoke of "nothing less than a sun-clear report" (Kaufmann's translation et p. 78). This is a clear reference to Fichte's A Sun Clear Report to the General Public Concerning the Actual Essence of the Newest Philosophy: An Attempt to Force the Reader to Understand (1801). Fichte was charged with Atheism (1798) leaves Jena for Berlin (1799). Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation (1808). In 1811 he was made Rector of the University of Berlin.
During the War of Liberation in 1813 Fichte canceled his lectures and went
into the militia. Johanna Fichte, his wife was a nurse in a military hospital
she got sick but lived. However, Johann Gottlieb Fichte got sick and died at
the height of fame serving in the German militia of the time. http://www.phil.upenn.edu/~cubowman/fichte/
One of people that Hegel really disliked was Fries. Fries taught as University of Jena at the same time as Hegel. He wrote a book entitled, Reinhold, Fichte, and Schelling (1803) where he was very critical of all of the post-Kantians. One could say that the reason Hegel published the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) was to try to get university positions before Fries got them. Fries did get a position at the University of Heidelberg in 1805 and Hegel was stunned. Fries published a book with the title of Knowledge, Faith and Intimation (1805). Fries thinks that these feelings that we have are independent of reason and understanding "Ahndung," or "intimation." Feelings (inkling, divination, presentiment) are intimations of the transcendent. Fries was a follower of Kant, but not with the Idealism of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Rather he wanted the post-Kantians to go toward an empiricist and moralistic way. http://www.friesian.com/fries.htm
Karl Friedrich Goeschel wanted a reconciliation of Christianity with modern culture. Lived in Berlin at the same time as Hegel. In 1830, Hegel wrote of a review of Goeschel's book entitled Aphorisms on Ignorance and Absolute Knowing.
Goethe was one of the most famous writers of this period in German literature.
Wrote Foust (1808) and Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). Very good
friend of Friedrich Schiller. Strong personal connections to Hegel, dinners,
Hamann was one of Kant's closes friends and yet, Kant argued against him in
a number of publications. Hamann has an irrationalistic theory of faith and
in general was against Englightment. Was like by S. Kierkegaard. http://members.aol.com/agrudolph/jghamann.htm
Professor of History at Jena was against the appointment of Schiller in history. Schiller later moved to philosophy.
Professor of philosophy at University of Breslau, 1822; Professor at University
Halle, 1824. In 1825 wrote on Aesthetics and Goethe's great work Faust.
The title is: Aesthetische Vorlesgungen über Goethe's Faust, als Beitrag
zur Anerkennung wissenschaftlicher Kunstbeurtheilung. Also wrote on tragedy.
The title is: Das wesen der antiken tragödie, in ästhetischen vorlesungen
durchgeführt an den beiden Oedipus des Sophokles im allgemeinen und an
der Antigone insbesondere.
Was a great follower of Hegel. Hegel's student from Heidelberg.
Herder was against the synthesis of faith and reason. His collected works are
long, 33 volumes. He was one of Kant's well-known students. Attacked Enlightenment.
On of the leading lights of the "Sturm und Drang" (storm and stress)
movement. Friend of Hamann. In 1785, Kant published a review of Herder's work,
Ideen (Ideas). http://www.ets.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/Herder.htm
Change the school system of the times to a more humanistic way and liberal.
Developed a theory of language. Was attacked by Hegel in his 1827 review, "On
the episode of the Mahabharata known as the Bhagavad-Gita by Wilhelm von Humboldt".
Von Humboldt vision of a university as a union of "teaching and research"
remains with us today. He was always surprised that Hegel system became famous.
Founder of the University of Berlin, but was not involved in its development.
Wilhelm von Humboldt Gesellschaft e.V.
zur Wahrung und Förderung der Bildung, der Kultur und der deutschen Sprache (http://www.wvh-gesellschaft.org/index.html). Did early studies of lingustics. His brother Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was the traveler (central and south America, 1799-1804) and did natural science. Also traveled to Siberia, Ural Mountains, and Caspian Sea in 1829. I would like to thank Dr. Tze-wan Kwan, Professor and Chair, Philosophy Department, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China for pointing out the relationship between the two brothers. Back to Hegel. There is a recent translation of Hegel's work. Entitled: On The Episode of the Mahabharata Known by the Name Bhgavad-Gita by Wilhelm Von Humboldt translated by Herbert Herring, New Delhi : Indian Council of Philosophical Research : Distributed by Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1995. This is an English translation of Hegel's work, Über die unter dem namen Bhagavad-Gita bekannte episode des Mahabharata von Wilhelm von Humboldt. In some ways it is classic Hegel, since he puts this Indian work in his large context of world history.
He thought that our knowledge of mundane and divine matters rests, not on argument,
but on feeling and faith. The one word should come to mind on Jacobi position
is FAITH. In the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel spoke of
"the unmethod of intimation' (Kaufmann's translation, et p. 74). Mostly
likely he was thinking of Jacobi. He was clearly against the French revolution.
Considered Goethe to be on the side of fatalism. Jacobi attack Lessing and Moses
Mendelssohn. Started the Pantheism Controversy. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/j/jacobi.htm
Wilhelm Traugott Krug (1770-1842) wrote "Groundwork of Philosophy," setting forth a "Transcendental Synthesis". Wrote some awful reviews of Hegel's works. Krug followed Kant to the chair of Philosophy at University of Konigsberg (1804). Hegel wrote an early work entitled "How the Ordinary Human Understanding Takes Philosophy (as displayed in the works of Mr. Krug)" in 1802. Krug was a common sense philosopher dressed up as a Kantian. Krug also attacked Reinhold and Fichte.
Hegel read one of Lessing plays in his youth and made notes about in his diary and later quoted from it in Hegel's writings. The play is called Nathan der Weise (1779). Early work, On the education of the Human Race, 1778. Lessing has been considered a deist, a theist, a Spinozist-pantheist, a panentheist and most likely some kind of atheist. Lessing remarks about Spinzoa that started the great Pathenism Controversy in the late 1700s. http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc96.html
Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) popular philosopher - rationalism. Defended orthodox theology based on reason. Wrote letters to Kant. He was model for Lessing play, Nathan der Weise (1779). Work on fine art and aesthetics. Loved poetry, wrote Hebrew poems at the age of 10. http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/biography/Mendelssohn.html
Novalis. His real name was Friedrich Leopold Friedrich Baron von Hardenberg Romantic Movement in Jena 1799. Wrote a novel entitled, Hymns to the Night. (Hymnen An Die Nacht). This was written after the untimely death of fiancée at the age of 14. He defines Philosophy as homesickness, as the need to be at home in all places.
Hegel said this about Novalis,
Subjectivity signifies the lack of a firm and steady basis, but likewise the desire for such, and thus it evermore remains a yearning. These yearnings of a lofty soul are set forth in the writings of Novalis. This subjectivity does not reach substantiality, it dies away within itself, and the standpoint it adopts is one of inward workings (History of Philosophy). http://www.uni-leipzig.de/~angl/novalis/novalis/enov-bio.htm
Made Kant famous person. Reinhold taught Kantian philosophy at the University of Jena (1787). In 1788 was teaching to classes with over 400 students. Leading interpreter of Kantian philosophy until Fichte published his Critique of All Revelation anonymously. Every one thought this book was the work I. Kant. This launched Fichte's career and made him more famous than Reinhold's Elementarphilosophie ("The Philosophy of Elements"). Reinhold also attacked Schelling. Hegel is out to defend Schelling in his early writings against the attacks of Reinhold. Reinhold's publication, The Fundamental Concepts and Principles of Ethics (1798), uses the expression "common sense". In general, he worked on Kant's philosophy and came up with a theory of consciousness.
F.W.J. Schelling was a roommate with G.W.F. Hegel and the famous classical poet, Fredrick Holderlin (1770-1843) at the Tubingen Stift. His first major publication Ideen zur Philosophie der Natur (1797) was published at the age of twenty-two. He was appointed to a chair of Philosophy at Jena University, 1798 (age of twenty-three). In 1803 he moved to a chair at Wurzburg University until 1806. During this time he wrote his treatise on human freedom in 1809 (age of thirty-six). This was to be his last major work published during his lifetime even though he wrote volumes more. These were not to be published in his lifetime.
In the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel spoke of "or to pass off one's absolute as the night in which, as one says, all cows are black - that is the naiveté of the emptiness of knowledge." (Kaufmann's translation, et p. 26). Hegel tried to calm Schelling down in letters even before Schelling saw this reference, but Hegel and Schelling were no longer friends after this.
Much later Hegel said,
It was Schelling, finally, who made the most important, or, from a philosophic
point of view, the only important advance upon the philosophy of Fichte; his
philosophy rose higher than that of Fichte, though undoubtedly it stood in close
connection with it; indeed, he himself professes to be a Fichtian. Now the philosophy
of Schelling from the first admitted the possibility of a knowledge of God,
although it likewise started from the philosophy of Kant, which denies such
knowledge. At the same time Schelling makes Jacobi's principle of the unity
of thought and Being fundamental, although he begins to determine it more closely.
(History of Philosophy). http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/schelli1.htm
German philosopher and poet who wrote a series of popular "Sturm und Drang"
(storm and stress) plays, including Die Räber and Wilhelm Tell.
Although he criticized Kant's ethical theory in
Über Anmuth und Würde (On Grace and Dignity) (1793), Schiller applied Kantian notions to the sensuous appreciation of aesthetic experience in (Briefe über die äesthetische Erziehung des Menschen) Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795). Hegel was greatly influence by the Schiller language and incorporated a lot terminology from Schiller into the Phenomenology of Spirit. http://www.studiocleo.com/librarie/schiller/biography.html
Brother of Friedrich Von Schlegel (1772-1829). Did the standard translation of Shakespeare into German. Also did work on Sanskrit and was involved in the publishing of Indian religious text. Schlegel was general known with his brother for his involvement the early German Romantic movement.
Friedrich Von Schlegel. Romantic movement. Hegel said, "This first form, Irony, has Friedrich von Schlegel as its leading exponent. The subject here knows itself to be within itself the Absolute, and all else to it is vain; all the conclusions which it draws for itself respecting the right and good, it likewise knows how to destroy again. " (Philosophy of History). Studied Sanskrit. http://www.orst.edu/instruct/ger341/stave.htm
German philosopher and theologian. In Über die Religion. Reden an Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern (On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers) (1799); Schleiermacher proposed that religious experience be based on human emotions (especially the feeling of dependency) rather than on reason. Also, he was the author of Der Christliche Glaube (The Christian Faith) (1822). Translated the dialogues of Plato into German, and invented the modern study of hermeneutics.
There is one interesting remark about their relationship:
"Hegel admired his On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (1799), but later came to hate him, avowedly because he rejected his view that religion rests on a feeling of 'absolute dependence'."
But later Hegel polemics against Schleiermacher became so bad that the students in the lecture hall would stomp their feet in displeasure. Taught at the University of Berlin at the same time as Hegel. Schleiermacher was a great and a very polished lecturer. Hegel was the opposite. He was a great thinker, but not a very good lecturer. For Schleiermacher religion and theology is primarily neither morality (contra Kant) nor belief or knowledge (contra Hegel), but rather, an immediate self-consciousness or feeling of absolute reliance on God. He was very close friend of Friedrich Schlegel. Schleiermacher was against Napoleon as a foreign conqueror and dictator (contra Hegel and Goethe). Consider by many to be the founder of modern Protestant theology.http://www.island-of-freedom.com/SCHLEIER.HTM and
He was a skeptic and professor at Helmstadt. Became famous by attacking Reinhold and Kant's critical philosophy. Had read some of Hume. Reinhold and Fichte attacked him. Hegel also wrote a review of Schulze work in an article called "The Relation of Skepticism to Philosophy" in 1802. Taught the great Arthur Schopenhauer. In general, Schulze attack the whole idea of Kant's thing-in-itself. Schulze also published a book very close to Hegel's Encyclopedia; he called it Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, for use with Lectures (1814). Hegel wrote a very long article on 1802 entitled "On the Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy, Exposition of its Different Modifications and Comparison of the Latest Form with the Ancient One". The latest form is indeed Schulze. This article is basically a review of Schulze book, Critique of Theoretical Philosophy (1801). Hegel was upset with Schulze commonsensical skepticism and tried to defend ancient skepticism like Sextus Empiricus against Schulze.
In the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel spoke of "Comprehending
God as the one substance outraged the age in which this definition was proclaimed.
" (Kaufmann's translation, et p. 28). This is a reference to Spinoza. http://cooley.colgate.edu/cslweb/curresup/spinoza.html
"Three Men Standing over a Dead Dog. The Absolute as Fundamental Problem of German Idealism" in Schelling: Zwischen Fichte und Hegel - Schelling: Between Fichte and Hegel. Grüner/Benjamins (Bochumer Studien zur Philosophie; 32), Amsterdam 2000.
Dr. George Di-Giovanni article is entitled: "Wie aus der Pistole: Fries and Hegel on Faith and Knowledge" in Hegel and the Tradition: Essays in Honour of H.S. Harris, Baur, Michael (ed)
The English translation is Schelling's treatise on the essence of human
freedom, by Martin Heidegger. Translation by Joan Stambaugh,
published by Ohio University Press, 1985. This is a translation from the German entitled: Schelling Abhandlung uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit. Published by Max Niemeyer Verlag Tubingen, 1971.
In 1936 Heidegger gave a summer lecture series on Schelling: Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit (1809). Volume 42 of the Heidegger's Gesamtausgabe is entitled: Schelling: Ueber das Wesen der menschlichen; AKA Schelling: Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit (1809). 1936.
Hegel on Schelling:
Schelling on Hegel:
Although there are more 'lesser known' works of Hegel's, I thought this would show some of his publications that are directly related to this article's lesser known philosophers.
The Positivity of Christian Religion, Essay (1795)
On the Nature of Philosophical Criticism in general and its Relation to
the Present Conditions of Philosophy in Particular. (1802).
(Discuss Kant and Fichte, Philosophy as Science).
The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's Systems of Philosophy, 1801. (Has a third section discussing Reinhold).
On the Relationship of Skepticism to Philosophy, Exposition of its Different
Modifications and Comparison of the Latest Form with the Ancient One.
(Discuss and reviews Schulze's work).
How the Ordinary Human Understanding Takes Philosophy (as displayed in the works of Mr. Krug) (1802).
Review of Freidrich Heinrich Jacobis Werke. Dritter Band. (1817)
Faith and Knowledge or the Reflective Philosophy of Subjectivity in the Complete Range of Its Forms as Kantian, Jacobian, and Fichtean Philosophy. (1802).
Preface to Heinrichs Religion and its inner relationship to Science.
Heinrich full title of the book is "Die Religion im inneren Verhältnisse zur Wissenschaft; nebst Darstellung und Beurtheilung der von Jacobi, Kant, Fichte und Schelling gemachten Versuche, dieselbe wissenschaftlich zu erfassen, und nach ihrem Hauptinhalte zu entwickeln." By Hermann Friedrich Wilhelm Hinrichs (1794-1861).
On the episode of the Mahabharata known as the Bhagavad-Gita by Wilhelm von Humboldt. (1827).
Review of Hamann's Writings (1828).
Review of Goeschel's book entitled 'Aphorisms on Ignorance and Absolute Knowing'. (1830).
On Lessing's letters to his wife. (Unknown, place and date of publication).
Hegel’s Major Writings:
Differenz des Fichteschen und Schellingschen Systems der Philosophie (1801)
Glauben und Wissen (1802)
des Geistes (1807) ]
[Earlier title: Wissenschaft der Erfahrung des Bewußtseins
Wissenschaft der Logik (1812/1813, 1816, 1832)
Enzyklopädie der Philosophischen Wissenschaften (1830)
Philosophie des Rechts (1820)
Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie
Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Weltgeschichte
Vorlesung über die Philosophie der Kunst (1823)
Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion
Hegel loved both Medoc and Pontac wines, which really cost more than he could afford.
Hegel himself did not end up as a footnote in history as can be seen by the view of Hegel that Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) in his early essay "On the Use and Abuse of History for Life," 1873, said this about Hegel influence:
"I believe that there has been no dangerous variation or change in German culture in this century, which has not become more dangerous through the monstrous influence of the philosophy of Hegel, an influence which continues to flow right up to the present."
Updated: 21 Jan 2004
Daniel Fidel Ferrer.
309-A Park Library
Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI