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Join us June 13 for a discussion of Hegel's Philosophy of History

Here are some discussion questions we'll be using to guide our conversation:

There is a great deal to discuss in this month's reading, but we should also allow some time to reflect on The Philosophy of History as a whole and the very important questions Hegel's analysis raises. Here are some discussion themes about the three main sections of the reading, along with some more general questions about the whole work.


What was lacking in Rome that was supplied by Christianity? [masked])

Why is it that as a result of Christianity, "everything that had been respected, is treated as a matter of indifference -- as worthy of no regard." (328)

What political principles followed from Christianity? [masked])

Modern Time

What was the problem of the Church that was solved by the Reformation? (413)

What was new in the Reformation? [masked])

Why was the Reformation World Historical? (417)

How did the Reformation affect secular life? [masked])

Enlightenment and Revolution

How was the Enlightenment an advance over the Reformation? [masked])

How did Christianity become secular? (442)

How was the French Revolution the heir of Anaxagoras?(447)

Why is private property and the market economy a given for Hegel? (448)

What is the general problem with government, democratic or otherwise? What does Hegel mean by "disposition"? Does he think a constitution is a substitute for religion? (449)

If people are not satisfied with rights and property, what is the solution for the constant political struggle between the ins and the outs? (452)

Why was the French Revolution World Historical? (453)?

Why is the Prussian regime superior to the British? [masked])?

Some general questions about the Philosophy of History as a whole

Does the idea of a philosophy of history make sense?

Does Hegel make a good case that private property and the market economy are History's end state?

Is the question of "to what principle are these sacrifices offered" a natural one? Should we think they are offered for a principle?
"But even regarding History as the slaughter-bench at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of States, and the virtue of individuals have been victimized—the question involuntarily arises—to what principle, to what final aim these enormous sacrifices have been offered. (p.21)"

Was a philosophy of history possible before Christ? Is it a purely Christian idea?

Is History the meaning and purpose of Christ? "Translating the language of religion into Philosophy."

Is it legitimate to translate Christianity into secular terms? What about the afterlife?

Does everything in Hegel depend on divine revelation?

Is History's "progress toward freedom" a conclusion or an assumption?

Is the meaning of Freedom self-evident?

If there had been no Christ, would there have been a French Revolution?

Is Hegel himself inside History, or outside?

Does History replace Nature, or is History the discovery of Nature? If the latter, why is course of history rational?

World Historical individuals commit crimes. So what? On what basis would Hegel say crimes committed by political leaders are wrong?

How does Hegel reconcile individual autonomy and political authority? Does he have a theory of government?

The idea of the Enlightenment is that science discovers laws, regularities in nature, and these spread throughout the population, ie we all become 'enlightened.' If such knowledge is cumulative, does this not imply that history proceeds in a rational direction, or that 'history is rational'?


In June we will be discussing selections from Part III and IV of Hegel's Philosophy of History.

It covers the coming of Christianity (Part III) and The Modern Time, Part IV, which includes The Reformation, the Influence of the Reformation on Political Development and The Enlightenment of Revolution. This takes us to the end of the work, and for Hegel, the end of History.

In addition to discussing this reading, we should take some time at our June meeting to discuss the work as a whole -- do we understand his thought? What does it mean? Is it true?

In July we will take up Hegel's Outline of a Philosophy of Right, which presents his political philosophy in a more traditional manner.

The June reading is contained in a PDF available for download on this site, titled "Hegel, PoH, Part II, III, IV." Look under "More" and "Files." The reading is the second half of this PDF, starting on p. 318

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  • Paul L.

    Looking forward to this new group. Don't know much about Hegel but am willing to read, listen, and learn. Paul

    1 · May 14, 2013

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