Friedrich Hegel’s Understanding of History and Consciousness

Friedrich Hegel’s Understanding of History and Consciousness

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Few philosophers deny that people are largely historical.

People develop and change the heritage they have received from the past and pass it on to future generations. For example, language is something we learn and change by improving it. And the same is true for science. Scientists start with a bundle of theories. Then that theory is either confirmed or flagged as false. The same is true for social institutions such as the family, state, bank, church, which are modified versions of old practices or institutions. Humans therefore never begin their existence randomly, they always begin in some kind of context—sometimes in a context that changes radically in a single generation. However, some things are not directly historical or subject to change.

An example of this kind of thing is consciousness. We certainly know what it is to be conscious of our change of will, but being conscious—what it is like to be alert, aware, able to think and make decisions—is something we believe is the same for everyone. Similarly, it seems reasonable to argue that mindsets are not historical. Thought activity and the mental abilities on which it is based (memory, perception, understanding, etc.) have always been the same for everyone throughout history. This is also the belief of Hegel’s predecessor, the great idealist Immanuel Kant, and to understand Hegel we need to know his thoughts on Kant’s works.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook