On Human Freedom and Rationality: Trajectories of Hegelian Philosophy of History

Nirbachita Rodsy Progga

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) is regarded as one of the finest thinkers of modern philosophy. His work is sometimes regarded as the “completion of history.” Despite the dearth of debates and discussions, trying to understand Hegel’s philosophy is, this paper shows, undeniably a worthwhile endeavor. This paper clarifies that doing so consistently sheds light on the kinds of experiences that we, as human individuals, go through daily specially in a postmodern world. Hence, this paper assumes in the line of Zizek that ‘true Hegelians’ must freely declare their critical integrity and explain the significance and validity of Hegel to the modern intellectual environment without equivocation. Therefore, the primary objective of this paper is to revisit and contextualize Hegel once again to understand our fundamental human situation better. Particularly, this paper aims at revisiting Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of History’ which is undoubtedly one very distinctive and promising dimension of Hegel’s entire work. For Hegel, human history is neither a random assortment of occurrences nor a place where things merely happen as a cacophony of sound and fury signifying nothing. History is instead a dynamically propelled process. That dynamic refers to how humans learn to realize that they are ‘independent and rational’ creatures dwelling in a rational world. To clarify this complex yet intellectually exciting assertion, this paper elaborates on Hegel’s notions like ‘the concept of spirit’, ‘the idea of spirit’ as well as the ‘dynamic factor’ that has been propelling the human history from its very inception. Additionally, it elaborates on Hegel’s ultimate trust in human freedom and rationality as the humanity’s ultimate destiny. It also critically engages with Hegelian notions of dialectics and its byproduct ‘the end of history’. History ends when the distance between the concept of spirit and the idea of spirit closes to the vanishing point, i.e., when human consciousness arrives at the Absolute Idea and comprehends that all humans are free and rational and exist within a free and rational universe.

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