Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: The Power of Others

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s father wished for his son to become a clergyman. Hegel enrolled in the seminary at the University of Tübingen in 1788 and studied theology. During his time at the University, Hegel became friends with Friedrich Hölderlin and Friedrich W. J. von Schelling, who would go on to become incredibly successful as a poet and philosopher, respectively. Throughout their lives, these three men would have profound impacts on one another’s work.

After graduating, Hegel decided he would not pursue being a pastor and lived in Frankfurt, where he worked as a tutor. When his father died, Hegel was left with enough money to financially support himself and began to devote his time entirely to working on his religious and social philosophies. In 1800, Hegel was introduced to the work of Immanuel Kant and became very interested in Kant’s philosophies. In 1801, Hegel moved with von Schelling to the city of Jena, where both were hired to teach at the University of Jena. Jena was an artistic and intellectual epicenter, and Hegel decided his philosophy would combine his influences of theology, Kantian idealism, and romanticism with contemporary politics and social issues. That same year, Hegel began publishing his philosophical texts.

Hegel published one of his most famous works, Phenomenology of Spirit, in 1807, in which he discussed in depth his views on Spirit, consciousness, and knowledge. Hegel would later systematize his philosophical approach in his three-volume Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences of 1817 and, in 1821, his Elements of the Philosophy of Right, where he combined his philosophical ideas with critiques of modern society and political institutions.

In the years leading up to his death, Hegel became quite influential. The impact of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel can be seen in theology, cultural theory, and sociology, and his work is often considered a precursor to Marxism.