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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - The most systematic of the post-Kantian idealists, Hegel attempted, throughout his published writings as well as in his lectures, to elaborate a comprehensive and systematic ontology from a “logical” starting point. He is perhaps most well-known for his teleological account of history, an account which was later taken over by Marx and “inverted” into a materialist theory of an historical development culminating in communism.
Hegel is seen as offering a metaphysico-religious view of “Absolute Spirit” which draws on pantheistic ideas of the identity of the universe and God, together with theistic ideas concerning the necessary “self-consciousness” of God. The peculiarity of Hegel's view, on this account, lies in his idea that the mind of God becomes actual only via the minds of his creatures, who serve as its vehicle. It is as distributed bearers of this developing self-consciousness of God that those finitely-embodied inhabitants of the universe -- we humans -- can be such “finite-infinites.”
An important consequence of Hegel's metaphysics, so understood, concerns history and the idea of historical development or progress, and it is as an advocate of an idea concerning the logically-necessitated teleological course of history that Hegel is most often decried. To many critics Hegel not only was an advocate of a disastrous political conception of the state and the relation of its citizens to it, a conception prefiguring twentieth-century totalitarianism, but had tried to underpin such advocacy with dubious logico-metaphysical speculations. With his idea of the development of “spirit” in history, Hegel is seen as literalising a way of talking about different cultures in terms of their “spirits,” of constructing a developmental sequence of epochs typical of nineteenth-century ideas of linear historical progress, and then enveloping this story of human progress in terms of one about the developing self-conscious of the cosmos-God itself.
Some of his works include (the ...