Hegel and Rationalism (Rationality), Hegelian RationalismJune 29, 2021
German philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Georg Vilhelm Fridrih Hegel) is a philosopher who brought rationalism to its zenith.
According to Hegel, man can reach a real and obvious knowledge of existence only through reason, without using the senses at all. Because the laws of reason and the laws of existence are one and the same. Again, according to him, the object itself is also rational like the subject. Hegel expressed this identity between being and thought as follows: “What is reasonable is truth, and what is true is reasonable.”
According to Hegel, basic science is the science of logic. True knowledge can only be reached through logic. The science of logic consists of revealing, explaining and developing the concepts that the mind derives only from itself. The formal discipline that studies connections as something emerges from or is the result of something else, is logic. For example, for Descartes, the whole universe was built within the concepts of logic, namely its general determinations and framework. Logic is the field in which the truth is evident.
Hegel’s philosophy is based on the concept of development and change. The importance of this in philosophy is that it says that everything is in change and in motion, interconnected, and that it develops the dialectical method. According to him, thought (spirit) and matter (universe) are in constant change. Change and development are the basis of every kind of life and movement. According to Hegel, the place and importance of thought, that is, spirit, is at the forefront in change. That is, changes in thought lead to changes in matter.
According to Hegel, this world, the objects that make up this world and which are the subject of our knowledge, are the work of a mind other than the human mind. Hegel calls this absolute mind (absolute mind) “Geist”. Geist is a self-sufficient, self-conscious being. According to him, everything happens as a result of a three-stage development. These stages are; thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Everything develops and changes through its opposite. Every thesis requires its antithesis, the relation of these two reaching higher level of synthesis. In the first step of Geist’s dialectical movement, he is in himself (thesis). He is in a state of strength and has not yet realized his strength. However, in order for Geist to know himself, he needs to give himself reality. For this purpose, Geist first realizes himself in nature (antithesis). For Hegel, nature is differentiated “Geist”. He has now become something other than himself, contrary to his essence. Geist has become alienated from himself in nature and has become contradictory with his own essence. This contradiction disappears in the world of culture in the third step of the dialectical process (stage of synthesis). With this, Geist finds himself again in the world of culture, returns to himself, becomes fully conscious and regains his freedom.
The tradition of rationalism shows a development line from Parmanides to Hegel, on this line very different understandings of rationality are encountered. Despite the different definitions of rationalism; If we consider the measure of truth as reason as a common element of this philosophical tradition, we come across Hegel at the culmination of this thought. The Hegelian dialectical method emerged as a method of rationalism’s self-foundation. Hegel’s famous thesis, “Everything real is rational, everything rational is real” is seen as the most succinct expression of the entire tradition of rationalism.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Year 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Year 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook