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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Transition to the Greek World
By Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831)
 
        
From ‘Philosophy of History’
  
  [The following passage, on the transition from the history of Egypt to that of Greece, shows how a national consciousness which expresses itself only in symbols passes over to one that expresses itself in the language of thought.]

THE EGYPTIAN SPIRIT has shown itself to us as in all respects shut up within the limits of particular conceptions, and as it were, imbruted in them; but likewise stirring itself within these limits,—passing restlessly from one particular form into another. This Spirit never rises to the Universal and Higher, for it seems to be blind to that; nor does it ever withdraw into itself: yet it symbolizes freely and boldly with particular existence, and has already mastered it. All that is now required is to posit that particular existence—which contains the germ of ideality—as ideal, and to comprehend Universality itself, which is already potentially liberated from the particulars involving it. It is the free, joyful Spirit of Greece that accomplishes this, and makes this its starting-point. An Egyptian priest is reported to have said that the Greeks remain eternally children. We may say on the contrary that the Egyptians are vigorous boys, eager for self-comprehension, who require nothing but clear understanding of themselves in an ideal form in order to become Young Men. In the Oriental Spirit there remains as a basis the massive substantiality of Spirit immersed in Nature. To the Egyptian Spirit it has become impossible—though it is still involved in infinite embarrassment—to remain contented with that. The rugged African nature disintegrated that primitive Unity, and lighted upon the problem whose solution is Free Spirit.  1
 
 
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