Essay about Hegel: Reason in History

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Hegel: Reason in History

The second chapter of the Introduction to the Philosophy of History bears the title "Reason in History"; however, careful study reveals that it could just as aptly been dubbed Reason is History or better, History is Reason. Although Reason exists in a finite form within the human being, the whole—infinite Reason—is necessarily greater than the sum of its parts—the sum of finite Reasons. Hegel's Reason is the infinite material of all reality—the substance, form, and power.

History is the increasing self-consciousness of the Spirit i.e. Reason; that is, a progressive increase of Reason within the world. This relationship between history and Reason is expressed by Hegel's agreement with Leibniz that this
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the absolute, rational end-goal of the world," and links it to Reason: "Thought, quite freely determining itself (15-16)." When combined with Hegel's prescriptive dictum that it is man's duty to know God i.e. Reason, this bridge between Reason and theology helps Hegel to further define his historical approach as a theodicy—a justification of the ways of God. The necessity for justification arrives when one seeks to explain dissatisfying events of the present relative to the glorious whole of history. So, in this complex relationship lie two of Hegel's fundamental contributions to thought. First, the claim that the Absolute can and should be known and, second, the assertion that the whole is the Truth.

In summary, History is the progressive path of Reason within the world. Reason, therefore, is a guiding 'force' which steers history towards its teleological end-goal of the actualization of absolute Reason in the objective form of the free State.

Hegel's description of Reason and History prompt serious questions and objections concerning not only the content of his beliefs but also of his justification for them. First, Hegel asks the reader to presuppose important features of his system including the nature of Reason as the infinite power of reality. Philosophy, he says, has already proven such assertions, but with no further description, the foundations of his