History of Literature










Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel



"The Philosophy of History"  



PART I,   PART II,   PART III,   PART IV



 



Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel


 

 
 

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

German philosopher

born August 27, 1770, Stuttgart, Württemberg [Germany]
died November 14, 1831, Berlin

Main
German philosopher who developed a dialectical scheme that emphasized the progress of history and of ideas from thesis to antithesis and thence to a synthesis.

Hegel was the last of the great philosophical system builders of modern times. His work, following upon that of Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and Friedrich Schelling, thus marks the pinnacle of classical German philosophy. As an absolute Idealist inspired by Christian insights and grounded in his mastery of a fantastic fund of concrete knowledge, Hegel found a place for everything—logical, natural, human, and divine—in a dialectical scheme that repeatedly swung from thesis to antithesis and back again to a higher and richer synthesis. His influence has been as fertile in the reactions that he precipitated—in Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish Existentialist; in the Marxists, who turned to social action; in the Vienna Positivists; and in G.E. Moore, a pioneering figure in British Analytic philosophy—as in his positive impact.

Early life
Hegel was the son of a revenue officer. He had already learned the elements of Latin from his mother by the time he entered the Stuttgart grammar school, where he remained for his education until he was 18. As a schoolboy he made a collection of extracts, alphabetically arranged, comprising annotations on classical authors, passages from newspapers, and treatises on morals and mathematics from the standard works of the period.

In 1788 Hegel went as a student to Tübingen with a view to taking orders, as his parents wished. Here he studied philosophy and classics for two years and graduated in 1790. Though he then took the theological course, he was impatient with the orthodoxy of his teachers; and the certificate given to him when he left in 1793 states that, whereas he had devoted himself vigorously to philosophy, his industry in theology was intermittent. He was also said to be poor in oral exposition, a deficiency that was to dog him throughout his life. Though his fellow students called him “the old man,” he liked cheerful company and a “sacrifice to Bacchus” and enjoyed the ladies as well. His chief friends during that period were a pantheistic poet, J.C.F. Hölderlin, his contemporary, and the nature philosopher Schelling, five years his junior. Together they read the Greek tragedians and celebrated the glories of the French Revolution.

On leaving college, Hegel did not enter the ministry; instead, wishing to have leisure for the study of philosophy and Greek literature, he became a private tutor. For the next three years he lived in Berne, with time on his hands and the run of a good library, where he read Edward Gibbon on the fall of the Roman empire and De l’esprit des loix, by Charles Louis, baron de Montesquieu, as well as the Greek and Roman classics. He also studied the critical philosopher Immanuel Kant and was stimulated by his essay on religion to write certain papers that became noteworthy only when, more than a century later, they were published as a part of Hegels theologische Jugendschriften (1907). Kant had maintained that, whereas orthodoxy requires a faith in historical facts and in doctrines that reason alone cannot justify and imposes on the faithful a moral system of arbitrary commands alleged to be revealed, Jesus, on the contrary, had originally taught a rational morality, which was reconcilable with the teaching of Kant’s ethical works, and a religion that, unlike Judaism, was adapted to the reason of all men. Hegel accepted this teaching; but, being more of a historian than Kant was, he put it to the test of history by writing two essays. The first of these was a life of Jesus in which Hegel attempted to reinterpret the gospel on Kantian lines. The second essay was an answer to the question of how Christianity had ever become the authoritarian religion that it was, if in fact the teaching of Jesus was not authoritarian but rationalistic.

Hegel was lonely in Berne and was glad to move, at the end of 1796, to Frankfurt am Main, where Hölderlin had gotten him a tutorship. His hopes of more companionship, however, were unfulfilled: Hölderlin was engrossed in an illicit love affair and shortly lost his reason. Hegel began to suffer from melancholia and, to cure himself, worked harder than ever, especially at Greek philosophy and modern history and politics. He read and made clippings from English newspapers, wrote about the internal affairs of his native Wurtemberg, and studied economics. Hegel was now able to free himself from the domination of Kant’s influence and to look with a fresh eye on the problem of Christian origins.


Early life Emancipation from Kantianism
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance that this problem had for Hegel. It is true that his early theological writings contain hard sayings about Christianity and the churches; but the object of his attack was orthodoxy, not theology itself. All that he wrote at this period throbs with a religious conviction of a kind that is totally absent from Kant and Hegel’s other 18th-century teachers. Above all, he was inspired by a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of man, his reason, is the candle of the Lord, he held, and therefore cannot be subject to the limitations that Kant had imposed upon it. This faith in reason, with its religious basis, henceforth animated the whole of Hegel’s work.

His outlook had also become that of a historian—which again distinguishes him from Kant, who was much more influenced by the concepts of physical science. Every one of Hegel’s major works was a history; and, indeed, it was among historians and classical scholars rather than among philosophers that his work mainly fructified in the 19th century.

When in 1798 Hegel turned back to look over the essays that he had written in Berne two or three years earlier, he saw with a historian’s eye that, under Kant’s influence, he had misrepresented the life and teachings of Jesus and the history of the Christian Church. His newly won insight then found expression in his essay “Der Geist des Christentums und sein Schicksal” (“The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate”), likewise unpublished until 1907. This is one of Hegel’s most remarkable works. Its style is often difficult and the connection of thought not always plain, but it is written with passion, insight, and conviction.

He begins by sketching the essence of Judaism, which he paints in the darkest colours. The Jews were slaves to the Mosaic Law, leading a life unlovely in comparison with that of the ancient Greeks and content with the material satisfaction of a land flowing with milk and honey. Jesus taught something entirely different. Men are not to be the slaves of objective commands: the law is made for man. They are even to rise above the tension in moral experience between inclination and reason’s law of duty, for the law is to be “fulfilled” in the love of God, wherein all tension ceases and the believer does God’s will wholeheartedly and single-mindedly. A community of such believers is the Kingdom of God.

This is the kingdom that Jesus came to teach. It is founded on a belief in the unity of the divine and the human. The life that flows in them both is one; and it is only because man is spirit that he can grasp and comprehend the Spirit of God. Hegel works out this conception in an exegesis of passages in the Gospel According to John. The kingdom, however, can never be realized in this world: man is not spirit alone but flesh also. “Church and state, worship and life, piety and virtue, spiritual and worldly action can never dissolve into one.”

In this essay the leading ideas of Hegel’s system of philosophy are rooted. Kant had argued that man can have knowledge only of a finite world of appearances and that, whenever his reason attempts to go beyond this sphere and grapple with the infinite or with ultimate reality, it becomes entangled in insoluble contradictions. Hegel, however, found in love, conceived as a union of opposites, a prefigurement of spirit as the unity in which contradictions, such as infinite and finite, are embraced and synthesized. His choice of the word Geist to express this his leading conception was deliberate: the word means “spirit” as well as “mind” and thus has religious overtones. Contradictions in thinking at the scientific level of Kant’s “understanding” are indeed inevitable, but thinking as an activity of spirit or “reason” can rise above them to a synthesis in which the contradictions are resolved. All of this, expressed in religious phraseology, is contained in the manuscripts written toward the end of Hegel’s stay in Frankfurt. “In religion,” he wrote, “finite life rises to infinite life.” Kant’s philosophy had to stop short of religion. But there is room for another philosophy, based on the concept of spirit, that will distill into conceptual form the insights of religion. This was the philosophy that Hegel now felt himself ready to expound.


Early life Career as lecturer at Jena
Fortunately, his circumstances changed at this moment, and he was at last able to embark on the academic career that had long been his ambition. His father’s death in 1799 had left him an inheritance, slender, indeed, but sufficient to enable him to surrender a regular income and take the risk of becoming a Privatdozent. In January of 1801 he arrived in Jena, where Schelling had been a professor since 1798. Jena, which had harboured the fantastic mysticism of the Schlegel brothers and their colleagues and the Kantianism and ethical Idealism of Fichte, had already seen its golden age, for these great scholars had all left. The precocious Schelling, who was but 26 on Hegel’s arrival, already had several books to his credit. Apt to “philosophize in public,” Schelling had been fighting a lone battle in the university against the rather dull followers of Kant. It was suggested that Hegel had been summoned as a new champion to aid his friend. This impression received some confirmation from the dissertation by which Hegel qualified as a university teacher, which betrays the influence of Schelling’s philosophy of nature, as well as from Hegel’s first publication, an essay entitled “Differenz des Fichte’schen und Schelling’schen Systems der Philosophie” (1801), in which he gave preference to the latter. Nevertheless, even in this essay and still more in its successors, Hegel’s difference from Schelling was clearly marked; they had a common interest in the Greeks, they both wished to carry forward Kant’s work, they were both iconoclasts; but Schelling had too many romantic enthusiasms for Hegel’s liking; and all that Hegel took from him—and then only for a very short period—was a terminology.

Hegel’s lectures, delivered in the winter of 1801–02, on logic and metaphysics, were attended by about 11 students. Later, in 1804, with a class of about 30, he lectured on his whole system, gradually working it out as he taught. Notice after notice of his lectures promised a textbook of philosophy—which, however, failed to appear. After the departure of Schelling from Jena (1803), Hegel was left to work out his own views untrammelled. Besides philosophical and political studies, he made extracts from books, attended lectures on physiology, and dabbled in other sciences. As a result of representations made by himself at Weimar, he was in February 1805 appointed extraordinary professor at Jena; and in July 1806, on Goethe’s intervention, he drew his first stipend—100 thalers. Though some of his hearers became attached to him, Hegel was not yet a popular lecturer.

Hegel, like Goethe, felt no patriotic shudder when Napoleon won his victory at Jena (1806): in Prussia he saw only a corrupt and conceited bureaucracy. Writing to a friend on the day before the battle, he spoke with admiration of the “world soul” and the Emperor and with satisfaction at the probable overthrow of the Prussians.

At this time Hegel published his first great work, the Phänomenologie des Geistes (1807; Eng. trans., The Phenomenology of Mind, 2nd ed., 1931). This, perhaps the most brilliant and difficult of Hegel’s books, describes how the human mind has risen from mere consciousness, through self-consciousness, reason, spirit, and religion, to absolute knowledge. Though man’s native attitude toward existence is reliance on the senses, a little reflection is sufficient to show that the reality attributed to the external world is due as much to intellectual conceptions as to the senses and that these conceptions elude a man when he tries to fix them. If consciousness cannot detect a permanent object outside itself, so self-consciousness cannot find a permanent subject in itself. Through aloofness, skepticism, or imperfection, self-consciousness has isolated itself from the world; it has closed its gates against the stream of life. The perception of this is reason. Reason thus abandons its efforts to mold the world and is content to let the aims of individuals work out their results independently.

The stage of Geist, however, reveals the consciousness no longer as isolated, critical, and antagonistic but as the indwelling spirit of a community. This is the lowest stage of concrete consciousness, the age of unconscious morality. But, through increasing culture, the mind gradually emancipates itself from conventions, which prepares the way for the rule of conscience. From the moral world the next step is religion. But the idea of Godhead, too, has to pass through nature worship and art before it reaches a full utterance in Christianity. Religion thus approaches the stage of absolute knowledge, of “the spirit knowing itself as spirit.” Here, according to Hegel, is the field of philosophy.


Gymnasium rector
In spite of the Phänomenologie, however, Hegel’s fortunes were now at their lowest ebb. He was, therefore, glad to become editor of the Bamberger Zeitung (1807–08). This, however, was not a suitable vocation, and he gladly accepted the rectorship of the Aegidiengymnasium in Nürnberg, a post he held from December 1808 to August 1816 and one that offered him a small but assured income. There Hegel inspired confidence in his pupils and maintained discipline without pedantic interference in their associations and sports.

In 1811 Hegel married Marie von Tucher (22 years his junior), of Nürnberg. The marriage was entirely happy. His wife bore him two sons: Karl, who became eminent as a historian; and Immanuel, whose interests were theological. The family circle was joined by Ludwig, a natural son of Hegel’s from Jena. At Nürnberg in 1812 appeared Die objektive Logik, being the first part of his Wissenschaft der Logik (“Science of Logic”), which in 1816 was completed by the second part, Die subjecktive Logik.


University professor
This work, in which his system was first presented in what was essentially its ultimate shape, earned him the offer of professorships at Erlangen, at Berlin, and at Heidelberg.


University professor At Heidelberg
He accepted the chair at Heidelberg. For use at his lectures there, he published his Encyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1817; “Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline”), an exposition of his system as a whole. Hegel’s philosophy is an attempt to comprehend the entire universe as a systematic whole. The system is grounded in faith. In the Christian religion God has been revealed as truth and as spirit. As spirit, man can receive this revelation. In religion the truth is veiled in imagery; but in philosophy the veil is torn aside, so that man can know the infinite and see all things in God. Hegel’s system is thus a spiritual monism but a monism in which differentiation is essential. Only through an experience of difference can the identity of thought and the object of thought be achieved—an identity in which thinking attains the through-and-through intelligibility that is its goal. Thus, truth is known only because error has been experienced and truth has triumphed; and God is infinite only because he has assumed the limitations of finitude and triumphed over them. Similarly, man’s Fall was necessary if he was to attain moral goodness. Spirit, including the Infinite Spirit, knows itself as spirit only by contrast with nature. Hegel’s system is monistic in having a single theme: what makes the universe intelligible is to see it as the eternal cyclical process whereby Absolute Spirit comes to knowledge of itself as spirit (1) through its own thinking; (2) through nature; and (3) through finite spirits and their self-expression in history and their self-discovery, in art, in religion, and in philosophy, as one with Absolute Spirit itself.

The compendium of Hegel’s system, the “Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences,” is in three parts: “Logic,” “Nature,” and “Mind.” Hegel’s method of exposition is dialectical. It often happens that in a discussion two people who at first present diametrically opposed points of view ultimately agree to reject their own partial views and to accept a new and broader view that does justice to the substance of each. Hegel believed that thinking always proceeds according to this pattern: it begins by laying down a positive thesis that is at once negated by its antithesis; then further thought produces the synthesis. But this in turn generates an antithesis, and the same process continues once more. The process, however, is circular: ultimately, thinking reaches a synthesis that is identical with its starting point, except that all that was implicit there has now been made explicit. Thus, thinking itself, as a process, has negativity as one of its constituent moments, and the finite is, as God’s self-manifestation, part and parcel of the infinite itself. This is the sort of dialectical process of which Hegel’s system provides an account in three phases.



University professor At Heidelberg “Logic”
The system begins with an account of God’s thinking “before the creation of nature and finite spirit”; i.e., with the categories or pure forms of thought, which are the structure of all physical and intellectual life. Throughout, Hegel is dealing with pure essentialities, with spirit thinking its own essence; and these are linked together in a dialectical process that advances from abstract to concrete. If a man tries to think the notion of pure Being (the most abstract category of all), he finds that it is simply emptiness; i.e., Nothing. Yet Nothing is. The notion of pure Being and the notion of Nothing are opposites; and yet each, as one tries to think it, passes over into the other. But the way out of the contradiction is at once to reject both notions separately and to affirm them both together; i.e., to assert the notion of becoming, since what becomes both is and is not at once. The dialectical process advances through categories of increasing complexity and culminates with the absolute idea, or with the spirit as objective to itself.


University professor At Heidelberg “Nature”
Nature is the opposite of spirit. The categories studied in “Logic” were all internally related to one another; they grew out of one another. Nature, on the other hand, is a sphere of external relations. Parts of space and moments of time exclude one another; and everything in nature is in space and time and is thus finite. But nature is created by spirit and bears the mark of its creator. Categories appear in it as its essential structure, and it is the task of the philosophy of nature to detect that structure and its dialectic; but nature, as the realm of externality, cannot be rational through and through, though the rationality prefigured in it becomes gradually explicit when man appears. In man nature rises to self-consciousness.


University professor At Heidelberg “Mind”
Here Hegel follows the development of the human mind through the subconscious, consciousness, and the rational will; then through human institutions and human history as the embodiment or objectification of that will; and finally to art, religion, and philosophy, in which finally man knows himself as spirit, as one with God and possessed of absolute truth. Thus, it is now open to him to think his own essence; i.e., the thoughts expounded in “Logic.” He has finally returned to the starting point of the system, but en route he has made explicit all that was implicit in it and has discovered that “nothing but spirit is, and spirit is pure activity.”

Hegel’s system depends throughout on the results of scientific, historical, theological, and philosophical inquiry. No reader can fail to be impressed by the penetration and breadth of his mind nor by the immense range of knowledge that, in his view, had to precede the work of philosophizing. A civilization must be mature and, indeed, in its death throes before, in the philosophic thinking that has implicitly been its substance, it becomes conscious of itself and of its own significance. Thus, when philosophy comes on the scene, some form of the world has grown old.


University professor At Berlin
In 1818 Hegel accepted the renewed offer of the chair of philosophy at Berlin, which had been vacant since Fichte’s death. There his influence over his pupils was immense, and there he published his Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft im Grundrisse, alternatively entitled Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (1821; Eng. trans., The Philosophy of Right, 1942). In Hegel’s works on politics and history, the human mind objectifies itself in its endeavour to find an object identical with itself. The Philosophy of Right (or of Law) falls into three main divisions. The first is concerned with law and rights as such: persons (i.e., men as men, quite independently of their individual characters) are the subject of rights, and what is required of them is mere obedience, no matter what the motives of obedience may be. Right is thus an abstract universal and therefore does justice only to the universal element in the human will. The individual, however, cannot be satisfied unless the act that he does accords not merely with law but also with his own conscientious convictions. Thus, the problem in the modern world is to construct a social and political order that satisfies the claims of both. And thus no political order can satisfy the demands of reason unless it is organized so as to avoid, on the one hand, a centralization that would make men slaves or ignore conscience and, on the other hand, an antinomianism that would allow freedom of conviction to any individual and so produce a licentiousness that would make social and political order impossible. The state that achieves this synthesis rests on the family and on the guild. It is unlike any state existing in Hegel’s day; it is a form of limited monarchy, with parliamentary government, trial by jury, and toleration for Jews and dissenters.

After his publication of The Philosophy of Right, Hegel seems to have devoted himself almost entirely to his lectures. Between 1823 and 1827 his activity reached its maximum. His notes were subjected to perpetual revisions and additions. It is possible to form an idea of them from the shape in which they appear in his published writings. Those on Aesthetics, on the Philosophy of Religion, on the Philosophy of History, and on the History of Philosophy have been published by his editors, mainly from the notes of his students, whereas those on logic, psychology, and the philosophy of nature have been appended in the form of illustrative and explanatory notes to the corresponding sections of his Encyklopädie. During these years hundreds of hearers from all parts of Germany and beyond came under his influence; and his fame was carried abroad by eager or intelligent disciples.

Three courses of lectures are especially the product of his Berlin period: those on aesthetics, on the philosophy of religion, and on the philosophy of history. In the years preceding the revolution of 1830, public interest, excluded from political life, turned to theatres, concert rooms, and picture galleries. At these Hegel became a frequent and appreciative visitor, and he made extracts from the art notes in the newspapers. During his holiday excursions, his interest in the fine arts more than once took him out of his way to see some old painting. This familiarity with the facts of art, though neither deep nor historical, gave a freshness to his lectures on aesthetics, which, as put together from the notes taken in different years from 1820 to 1829, are among his most successful efforts.

The lectures on the philosophy of religion are another application of his method, and shortly before his death he had prepared for the press a course of lectures on the proofs for the existence of God. On the one hand, he turned his weapons against the Rationalistic school, which reduced religion to the modicum compatible with an ordinary worldly mind. On the other hand, he criticized the school of Schleiermacher, who elevated feeling to a place in religion above systematic theology. In his middle way, Hegel attempted to show that the dogmatic creed is the rational development of what was implicit in religious feeling. To do so, of course, philosophy must be made the interpreter and the superior discipline.

In his philosophy of history, Hegel presupposed that the whole of human history is a process through which mankind has been making spiritual and moral progress and advancing to self-knowledge. History has a plot, and the philosopher’s task is to discern it. Some historians have found its key in the operation of natural laws of various kinds. Hegel’s attitude, however, rested on the faith that history is the enactment of God’s purpose and that man had now advanced far enough to descry what that purpose is: it is the gradual realization of human freedom.

The first step was to make the transition from a natural life of savagery to a state of order and law. States had to be founded by force and violence; there is no other way to make men law-abiding before they have advanced far enough mentally to accept the rationality of an ordered life. There will be a stage at which some men have accepted the law and become free, while others remain slaves. In the modern world man has come to appreciate that all men, as minds, are free in essence, and his task is thus to frame institutions under which they will be free in fact.

Hegel did not believe, despite the charge of some critics, that history had ended in his lifetime. In particular, he maintained against Kant that to eliminate war is impossible. Each nation-state is an individual; and, as Hobbes had said of relations between individuals in the state of nature, pacts without the sword are but words. Clearly, Hegel’s reverence for fact prevented him from accepting Kant’s Idealism.

The lectures on the history of philosophy are especially remarkable for their treatment of Greek philosophy. Working without modern indexes and annotated editions, Hegel’s grasp of Plato and Aristotle is astounding, and it is only just to recognize that it was from Hegel that the scholarship lavished on Greek philosophy in the century after his death received its original impetus.

At this time a Hegelian school began to gather. The flock included intelligent pupils, empty-headed imitators, and romantics who turned philosophy into lyric measures. Opposition and criticism only served to define more precisely the adherents of the new doctrine. Though he had soon resigned all direct official connection with the schools of Brandenburg, Hegel’s real influence in Prussia was considerable. In 1830 he was rector of the university. In 1831 he received a decoration from Frederick William III. One of his last literary undertakings was the establishment of the Berlin Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik (“Yearbook for Philosophical Criticism”).

The revolution of 1830 was a great blow to Hegel, and the prospect of mob rule almost made him ill. His last literary work, the first part of which appeared in the Preussische Staatszeitung while the rest was censored, was an essay on the English Reform Bill of 1832, considering its probable effects on the character of the new members of Parliament and the measures that they might introduce. In the latter connection he enlarged on several points in which England had done less than many continental states for the abolition of monopolies and abuses.

In 1831 cholera entered Germany. Hegel and his family retired for the summer to the suburbs, and there he finished the revision of the first part of his Science of Logic. Home again for the winter session, on November 14, after one day’s illness, he died of cholera and was buried, as he had wished, between Fichte and Karl Solger, author of an ironic dialectic.


Personage and influence
In his classroom Hegel was more impressive than fascinating. His students saw a plain, old-fashioned face, without life or lustre—a figure that had never looked young and was now prematurely aged. Sitting with his snuffbox before him and his head bent down, he looked ill at ease and kept turning the folios of his notes. His utterance was interrupted by frequent coughing; every sentence came out with a struggle. The style was no less irregular: sometimes in plain narrative the lecturer would be specially awkward, while in abstruse passages he seemed especially at home, rose into a natural eloquence, and carried away the hearer by the grandeur of his diction.

The early theological writings and the Phenomenology of Mind are packed with brilliant metaphors. In his later works, produced as textbooks for his lectures, the “Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences” and the Philosophy of Right, he compresses his material into relatively short, numbered paragraphs. It is only necessary to translate them to appreciate their conciseness and precision. The common idea that Hegel’s is a philosophy of exceptional difficulty is quite mistaken. Once his terminology is understood and his main principles grasped, he presents far less difficulty than Kant, for example. One reason for this is a certain air of dogmatism: Kant’s statements are often hedged around with qualifications; but Hegel had, as it were, seen a vision of absolute truth, and he expounds it with confidence.

Hegel’s system is avowedly an attempt to unify opposites—spirit and nature, universal and particular, ideal and real—and to be a synthesis in which all the partial and contradictory philosophies of his predecessors are alike contained and transcended. It is thus both Idealism and Realism at once; hence, it is not surprising that his successors, emphasizing now one and now another strain in his thought, have interpreted him variously. Conservatives and revolutionaries, believers and atheists alike have professed to draw inspiration from him. In one form or another his teaching dominated German universities for some years after his death and spread to France and to Italy. The vicissitudes of Hegelian thought to the present day are detailed below in Hegelianism. In the mid-20th century, interest in the early theological writings and in the Phänomenologie was increased by the spread of Existentialism. At the same time, the growing importance of Communism encouraged political thinkers to study Hegel’s political works, as well as his “Logic,” because of their influence on Karl Marx. And, by the time of his bicentennial in 1970, a Hegelian renascence was in the making.

Sir T. Malcolm Knox

 
 
 



The Philosophy of History



Translator, J. Sibree
 


Contents

Introduction
Geographical Basis of History
Classification of Historic Data

Part I: The Oriental World
Section I: China
Section II: India
Section II. (Continued). India Buddhism
Section III: Persia

Chapter I. The Zend People
Chapter II. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, and Persians
Chapter III. The Persian Empire and its Constituent Parts

Persia
Syria and the Semitic Western Asia
Judaea
Egypt
Transition to the Greek World

Part II: The Greek World
Section I: The Elements of the Greek Spirit

Section II: Phases of Individuality Æsthetically Conditioned

Chapter I. The Subjective Work of Art
Chapter II. The Objective Work of Art
Chapter III. The Political Work of Art

The Wars with the Persians
Athens
Sparta
The Peloponnesian War
The Macedonian Empire

Section III: The Fall of the Greek Spirit

Part III: The Roman World
Section I: Rome to the Time of the Second Punic War

Chapter I. – The Elements of the Roman Spirit
Chapter II. – The History of Rome to the Second Punic War

Section II: Rome from the Second Punic War to the Emperors

Section III

Chapter I. Rome Under the Emperors
Chapter II. Christianity
Chapter III. The Byzantine Empire

Part IV: The German World
Section I: The Elements of the Christian German World.

Chapter I. The Barbarian Migrations
Chapter II. Mohametanism
Chapter III. The Empire of Charlemagne

Section II: The Middle Ages

Chapter I. The Feudality and the Hierarchy
Chapter II. The Crusades
Chapter III. The Transition from Feudalism to Monarchy.

Art and Science as Putting a Period to the Middle Ages

Section III: The Modern Time

Chapter I. The Reformation
Chapter II. Influence of the Reformation on Political Development
Chapter III. The Éclaircissement and Revolution

Notes

 

 


Introduction.

The subject of this course of Lectures is the Philosophical History of the World. And by this must be understood, not a collection of general observations respecting it, suggested by the study of its records, and proposed to be illustrated by its facts, but Universal History itself.[2] To gain a clear idea, at the outset, of the nature of our task, it seems necessary to begin with an examination of the other methods of treating History. The various methods may be ranged under three heads:
I. Original History.
II. Reflective History.
III. Philosophical History.
I. Of the first kind, the mention of one or two distinguished names will furnish a definite type. To this category belong Herodotus, Thucydides, and other historians of the same order, whose descriptions are for the most part limited to deeds, events, and states of society, which they had before their eyes, and whose spirit they shared. They simply transferred what was passing in the world around them, to the realm of representative intellect. An external phenomenon is thus translated into an internal conception. In the same way the poet operates upon the material supplied him by his emotions; projecting it into an image for the conceptive faculty. These original historians did, it is true, find statements and narratives of other men ready to hand. One person cannot be an eye or ear witness of everything. But they make use of such aids only as the poet does of that heritage of an already-formed language, to which he owes so much: merely as an ingredient. Historiographers bind together the fleeting elements of story, and treasure them up for immortality in the Temple of Mnemosyne. Legends, Balladstories, Traditions, must be excluded from such original history. These are but dim and hazy forms of historical apprehension, and therefore belong to nations whose intelligence is but half awakened. Here, on the contrary, we have to do with people fully conscious of what they were and what they were about. The domain of reality – actually seen, or capable of being so – affords a very different basis in point of firmness from that fugitive and shadowy element, in which were engendered those legends and poetic dreams whose historical prestige vanishes, as soon as nations have attained a mature individuality.
Such original historians, then, change the events, the deeds, and the states of society with which they are conversant, into an object for the conceptive faculty. The narratives they leave us cannot, therefore, be very comprehensive in their range. Herodotus, Thucydides, Guicciardini, may be taken as fair samples of the class in this respect. What is present and living in their environment is their proper material. The influences that have formed the writer are identical with those which have moulded the events that constitute the matter of his story. The author’s spirit, and that of the actions he narrates, is one and the same. He describes scenes in which he himself has been an actor, or at any rate an interested spectator. It is short periods of time, individual shapes of persons and occurrences, single, unreflected traits, of which he makes his picture. And his aim is nothing more than the presentation to posterity of an image of events as clear as that which he himself possessed in virtue of personal observation, or life-like descriptions. Reflections are none of his business, for he lives in the spirit of his subject; he has not attained an elevation above it. If, as in Caesar’s case, he belongs to the exalted rank of generals or statesmen, it is the prosecution of his own aims that constitutes the history.
Such speeches as we find in Thucydides (for example) of which we can positively assert that they are not bona fide reports, would seem to make against out statement that a historian of his class presents us no reflected picture; that persons and people appear in his works in propria persona. Speeches, it must be allowed, are veritable transactions in the human commonwealth; in fact, very gravely influential transactions. It is indeed, often said, “Such and such things are only talk;” by way of demonstrating their harmlessness. That for which this excuse is brought may be mere “talk”; and talk enjoys the important privilege of being harmless. But addresses of peoples to peoples, or orations directed to nations and to princes, are integrant constituents of history. Granted that such orations as those of Pericles – that most profoundly accomplished, genuine, noble statesman – were elaborated by Thucydides, it must yet be maintained that they were not foreign to the character of the speaker. In the orations in question, these men proclaim the maxims adopted by their countrymen, and which formed their own character; they record their views of their political relations, and of their moral and spiritual nature; and the principles of their designs and conduct. What the historian puts into their mouths is no supposititious system of ideas, but an uncorrupted transcript of their intellectual and moral habitudes.
Of these historians, whom we must make thoroughly our own, with whom we must linger long, if we would live with their respective nations, and enter deeply into their spirit: of these historians, to whose pages we may turn not for the purposes of erudition merely, but with a view to deep and genuine enjoyment, there are fewer than might be imagined. Herodotus the Father, i.e., the Founder of History, and Thucydides have been already mentioned. Xenophon’s Retreat of the Ten Thousand, is a work equally original. Caesar’s Commentaries are the simple masterpiece of a mighty spirit. Among the ancients, these annalists were necessarily great captains and statesmen. In the Middle Ages, if we except the Bishops, who were placed in the very centre of the political world, the Monks monopolize this category as naive chroniclers who were as decidedly isolated from active life as those elder annalists had been connected with it. In modern times the relations are entirely altered. Our culture is essentially comprehensive, and immediately changes all events into historical representations. Belonging to the class in question, we have vivid, simple, clear narrations – especially of military transactions – which might fairly take their place with those of Caesar. In richness of matter and fulness of detail as regards strategic appliances, and attendant circumstances, they are even more instructive. The French “Mémoires,” also, fall under this category. In many cases these are written by men of mark, though relating to affairs of little note. They not unfrequently contain a large proportion of anecdotal matter, so that the ground they occupy is narrow and trivial. Yet they are often veritable masterpieces in history; as those of Cardinal de Retz, which in fact trench on a larger historical field. In Germany such masters are rare. Frederick the Great (“Histoire de Mon Temps”) is an illustrious exception. Writers of this order must occupy an elevated position. Only from such a position is it possible to take an extensive view of affairs – to see everything. This is out of the question for him, who from below merely gets a glimpse of the great world through a miserable cranny.
II. The second kind of history we may call the reflective. It is history whose mode of representation is not really confined by the limits of the time to which it relates, but whose spirit transcends the present. In this second order a strongly marked variety of species may be distinguished.
1. It is the aim of the investigator to gain a view of the entire history of a people or a country, or of the world, in short, what we call Universal History. In this case the working up of the historical material is the main point. The workman approaches his task with his own spirit; a spirit distinct from that of the element he is to manipulate. Here a very important consideration will be the principles to which the author refers the bearing and motives of the actions and events which he describes, and those which determine the form of his narrative. Among us Germans this reflective treatment and the display of ingenuity which it occasions assume a manifold variety of phases. Every writer of history proposes to himself an original method. The English and French confess to general principles of historical composition. Their standpoint is more that of cosmopolitan or of national culture. Among us each labors to invent a purely individual point of view. Instead of writing history, we are always beating our brains to discover how history ought to be written. This first kind of Reflective History is most nearly akin to the preceding, when it has no farther aim than to present the annals of a country complete. Such compilations (among which may be reckoned the works of Livy, Diodorus Siculus, Johannes von Müller’s History of Switzerland) are, if well performed, highly meritorious.
Among the best of the kind may be reckoned such annalists as approach those of the first class; who give so vivid a transcript of events that the reader may well fancy himself listening to contemporaries and eye- witnesses. But it often happens that the individuality of tone which must characterize a writer belonging to a different culture is not modified in accordance with the periods such a record must traverse. The spirit of the writer is quite other than that of the times of which he treats. Thus Livy puts into the mouths of the old Roman kings, consuls, and generals such orations as would be delivered by an accomplished advocate of the Livian era, and which strikingly contrast with the genuine traditions of Roman antiquity (e.g., the fable of Menenius Agrippa). In the same way he gives us descriptions of battles, as if he had been an actual spectator; but whose features would serve well enough for battles in any period, and whose distinctness contrasts on the other hand with the want of connection and the inconsistency that prevail elsewhere, even in his treatment of chief points of interest. The difference between such a compiler and an original historian may be best seen by comparing Polybius himself with the style in which Livy uses, expands, and abridges his annals in those periods of which Polybius’s account has been preserved. Johannes von Müller has given a stiff, formal, pedantic aspect to his history, in the endeavor to remain faithful in his portraiture to the times he describes. We much prefer the narratives we find in old Tschudy. All is more naive and natural than it appears in the garb of a fictitious and affected archaism.
A history which aspires to traverse long periods of time, or to be universal, must indeed forego the attempt to give individual representations of the past as it actually existed. It must foreshorten its pictures by abstractions; and this includes not merely the omission of events and deeds, but whatever is involved in the fact that Thought is, after all, the most trenchant epitomist. A battle, a great victory, a siege, no longer maintains its original proportions, but is put off with a bare mention. When Livy, e.g., tells us of the wars with the Volsci, we sometimes have the brief announcement: “This year war was carried on with the Volsci.”
2. A second species of Reflective History is what we may call the Pragmatical. When we have to deal with the Past, and occupy ourselves with a remote world, a Present rises into being for the mind – produced by its own activity, as the reward of its labor. The occurrences are, indeed, various; but the idea which pervades them – their deeper import and connection – is one. This takes the occurrence out of the category of the Past and makes it virtually Present. Pragmatical (didactic) reflections, though in their nature decidedly abstract, are truly and indefeasibly of the Present, and quicken the annals of the dead Past with the life of to-day. Whether, indeed, such reflections are truly interesting and enlivening, depends on the writer’s own spirit. Moral reflections must here be specially noticed – the moral teaching expected from history; which latter has not infrequently been treated with a direct view to the former. It may be allowed that examples of virtue elevate the soul, and are applicable in the moral instruction of children for impressing excellence upon their minds. But the destinies of peoples and states, their interests, relations, and the complicated tissue of their affairs, present quite another field. Rulers, Statesmen, Nations, are wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience offers in history. But what experience and history teach is this – that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with itself, and itself alone. Amid the pressure of great events, a general principle gives no help. It is useless to revert to similar circumstances in the Past. The pallid shades of memory struggle in vain with the life and freedom of the Present. Looked at in this light, nothing can be shallower than the oft-repeated appeal to Greek and Roman examples during the French Revolution. Nothing is more diverse than the genius of those nations and that of our times. Johannes v. Müller, in his “Universal History,” as also in his “History of Switzerland,” had such moral aims in view. He designed to prepare a body of political doctrines for the instruction of princes, governments, and peoples (he formed a special collection of doctrines and reflections – frequently giving us in his correspondence the exact number of apophthegms which he had compiled in a week); but he cannot reckon this part of his labor as among the best that he accomplished. It is only a thorough, liberal, comprehensive view of historical relations (such e.g., as we find in Montesquieu’s “Esprit des Lois”) that can give truth and interest to reflections of this order. One Reflective History, therefore, supersedes another. The materials are patent to every writer: each is likely enough to believe himself capable of arranging and manipulating them; and we may expect that each will insist upon his own spirit as that of the age in question. Disgusted by such reflective histories, readers have often returned with pleasure to a narrative adopting no particular point of view. These certainly have their value; but for the most part they offer only material for history. We Germans are content with such. The French, on the other hand, display great genius in reanimating bygone times, and in bringing the past to bear upon the present condition of things. [3] The third form of Reflective History is the Critical. This deserves mention as pre-eminently the mode of treating history now current in Germany. It is not history itself that is here presented. We might more properly designate it as a History of History; a criticism of historical narratives and an investigation of their truth and credibility. Its peculiarity in point of fact and of intention, consists in the acuteness with which the writer extorts something from the records which was not in the matters recorded. The French have given us much that is profound and judicious in this class of composition. But they have not endeavored to pass a merely critical procedure for substantial history. They have duly presented their judgments in the form of critical treatises. Among us, the so-called “higher criticism,” which reigns supreme in the domain of philology, has also taken possession of our historical literature. This “higher criticism” has been the pretext for introducing all the anti-historical monstrosities that a vain imagination could suggest. Here we have the other method of making the past a living reality; putting subjective fancies in the place of historical data; fancies whose merit is measured by their boldness, that is, the scantiness of the particulars on which they are based, and the peremptoriness with which they contravene the best established facts of history.[4] The last species of Reflective History announces its fragmentary character on the very face of it. It adopts an abstract position; yet, since it takes general points of view (e.g., as the History of Art, of Law, of Religion), it forms a transition to the Philosophical History of the World. In our time this form of the history of ideas has been more developed and brought into notice. Such branches of national life stand in close relation to the entire complex of a people’s annals; and the question of chief importance in relation to our subject is, whether the connection of the whole is exhibited in its truth and reality, or referred to merely external relations. In the latter case, these important phenomena (Art, Law, Religion, etc.) appear as purely accidental national peculiarities. It must be remarked that, when Reflective History has advanced to the adoption of general points of view, if the position taken is a true one, these are found to constitute – not a merely external thread, a superficial series – but are the inward guiding soul of the occurrences and actions that occupy a nation’s annals. For, like the soul-conductor Mercury, the Idea is in truth, the leader of peoples and of the World; and Spirit, the rational and necessitated will of that conductor, is and has been the director of the events of the World’s History. To become acquainted with Spirit in this its office of guidance, is the object of our present undertaking. This brings us to
III. The third kind of history – the Philosophical. No explanation was needed of the two previous classes; their nature was self-evident. It is otherwise with this last, which certainly seems to require an exposition or justification. The most general definition that can be given, is, that the Philosophy of History means nothing but the thoughtful consideration of it. Thought is, indeed, essential to humanity. It is this that distinguishes us from the brutes. In sensation, cognition, and intellection; in our instincts and volitions, as far as they are truly human, Thought is an invariable element. To insist upon Thought in this connection with history may, however, appear unsatisfactory. In this science it would seem as if Thought must be subordinate to what is given, to the realities of fact; that this is its basis and guide: while Philosophy dwells in the region of self-produced ideas, without reference to actuality. Approaching history thus prepossessed, Speculation might be expected to treat it as a mere passive material; and, so far from leaving it in its native truth, to force it into conformity with a tyrannous idea, and to construe it, as the phrase is, “à priori.” But as it is the business of history simply to adopt into its records what is and has been – actual occurrences and transactions; and since it remains true to its character in proportion as it strictly adheres to its data, we seem to have in Philosophy, a process diametrically opposed to that of the historiographer. This contradiction, and the charge consequently brought against speculation, shall be explained and confuted. We do not, however, propose to correct the innumerable special misrepresentations, trite or novel, that are current respecting the aims, the interests, and the modes of treating history, and its relation to Philosophy.
The only Thought which Philosophy brings with it to the contemplation of History, is the simple conception of Reason; that Reason is the Sovereign of the World; that the history of the world, therefore, presents us with a rational process. This conviction and intuition is a hypothesis in the domain of history as such. In that of Philosophy it is no hypothesis. It is there proved by speculative cognition, that Reason – and this term may here suffice us, without investigating the relation sustained by the Universe to the Divine Being – is Substance, as well as Infinite Power; its own Infinite Material underlying all the natural and spiritual life which it originates, as also the Infinite Form – that which sets this Material in motion. On the one hand, Reason is the substance of the Universe; viz., that by which and in which all reality has its being and subsistence. On the other hand, it is the Infinite Energy of the Universe; since Reason is not so powerless as to be incapable of producing anything but a mere ideal, a mere intention – having its place outside reality, nobody knows where; something separate and abstract, in the heads of certain human beings. It is the infinite complex of things, their entire Essence and Truth. It is its own material which it commits to its own Active Energy to work up; not needing, as finite action does, the conditions of an external material of given means from which it may obtain its support, and the objects of its activity. It supplies its own nourishment, and is the object of its own operations. While it is exclusively its own basis of existence, and absolute final aim, it is also the energizing power realizing this aim; developing it not only in the phenomena of the Natural, but also of the Spiritual Universe – the History of the World. That this “Idea” or “Reason” is the True, the Eternal, the absolutely powerful essence; that it reveals itself in the World, and that in that World nothing else is revealed but this and its honor and glory – is the thesis which, as we have said, has been proved in Philosophy, and is here regarded as demonstrated.
In those of my hearers who are not acquainted with Philosophy, I may fairly presume, at least, the existence of a belief in Reason, a desire, a thirst for acquaintance with it, in entering upon this course of Lectures. It is, in fact, the wish for rational insight, not the ambition to amass a mere heap of acquirements, that should be presupposed in every case as possessing the mind of the learner in the study of science. If the clear idea of Reason is not already developed in our minds, in beginning the study of Universal History, we should at least have the firm, unconquerable faith that Reason does exist there; and that the World of intelligence and conscious volition is not abandoned to chance, but must show itself in the light of the self-cognizant Idea. Yet I am not obliged to make any such preliminary demand upon your faith. What I have said thus provisionally, and what I shall have further to say, is, even in reference to our branch of science, not to be regarded as hypothetical, but as a summary view of the whole; the result of the investigation we are about to pursue; a result which happens to be known to me, because I have traversed the entire field. It is only an inference from the history of the World, that its development has been a rational process; that the history in question has constituted the rational necessary course of the World-Spirit – that Spirit whose nature is always one and the same, but which unfolds this its one nature in the phenomena of the World’s existence. This must, as before stated, present itself as the ultimate result of History. But we have to take the latter as it is. We must proceed historically – empirically. Among other precautions we must take care not to be misled by professed historians who (especially among the Germans, and enjoying a considerable authority), are chargeable with the very procedure of which they accuse the Philosopher – introducing à priori inventions of their own into the records of the Past. It is, for example, a widely current fiction, that there was an original primeval people, taught immediately by God, endowed with perfect insight and wisdom, possessing a thorough knowledge of all natural laws and spiritual truth; that there have been such or such sacerdotal peoples; or, to mention a more specific averment, that there was a Roman Epos, from which the Roman historians derived the early annals of their city, etc. Authorities of this kind we leave to those talented historians by profession, among whom (in Germany at least) their use is not uncommon. – We might then announce it as the first condition to be observed, that we should faithfully adopt all that is historical. But in such general expressions themselves, as “faithfully” and “adopt,” lies the ambiguity. Even the ordinary, the “impartial” historiographer, who believes and professes that he maintains a simply receptive attitude; surrendering himself only to the data supplied him – is by no means passive as regards the exercise of his thinking powers. He brings his categories with him, and sees the phenomena presented to his mental vision, exclusively through these media. And, especially in all that pretends to the name of science, it is indispensable that Reason should not sleep – that reflection should be in full play. To him who looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn presents a rational aspect. The relation is mutual. But the various exercises of reflection – the different points of view – the modes of deciding the simple question of the relative importance of events (the first category that occupies the attention of the historian), do not belong to this place.
I will only mention two phases and points of view that concern the generally diffused conviction that Reason has ruled, and is still ruling in the world, and consequently in the world’s history; because they give us, at the same time, an opportunity for more closely investigating the question that presents the greatest difficulty, and for indicating a branch of the subject, which will have to be enlarged on in the sequel. I. One of these points is, that passage in history, which informs us that the Greek Anaxagoras was the first to enunciate the doctrine that nous, Understanding generally, or Reason, governs the world. It is not intelligence as self-conscious Reason – not a Spirit as such that is meant; and we must clearly distinguish these from each other. The movement of the solar system takes place according to unchangeable laws. These laws are Reason, implicit in the phenomena in question. But neither the sun nor the planets, which revolve around it according to these laws, can be said to have any consciousness of them.
A thought of this kind – that Nature is an embodiment of Reason; that it is unchangeably subordinate to universal laws, appears nowise striking or strange to us. We are accustomed to such conceptions, and find nothing extraordinary in them. And I have mentioned this extraordinary occurrence, partly to show how history teaches, that ideas of this kind, which may seem trivial to us, have not always been in the world; that, on the contrary, such a thought makes an epoch in the annals of human intelligence. Aristotle says of Anaxagoras, as the originator of the thought in question, that he appeared as a sober man among the drunken. Socrates adopted the doctrine from Anaxagoras, and it forthwith became the ruling idea in Philosophy – except in the school of Epicurus, who ascribed all events to chance. “I was delighted with the sentiment” – Plato makes Socrates say – “and hoped I had found a teacher who would show me Nature in harmony with Reason, who would demonstrate in each particular phenomenon its specific aim, and in the whole, the grand object of the Universe. I would not have surrendered this hope for a great deal. But how very much was I disappointed, when, having zealously applied myself to the writings of Anaxagoras, I found that he adduces only external causes, such as Atmosphere, Ether, Water, and the like.” It is evident that the defect which Socrates complains of respecting Anaxagoras’s doctrine, does not concern the principle itself, but the shortcoming of the propounder in applying it to Nature in the concrete. Nature is not deduced from that principle: the latter remains in fact a mere abstraction, inasmuch as the former is not comprehended and exhibited as a development of it – an organization produced by and from Reason. I wish, at the very outset, to call your attention to the important difference between a conception, a principle, a truth limited to an abstract form and its determinate application, and concrete development. This distinction affects the whole fabric of philosophy; and among other bearings of it there is one to which we shall have to revert at the close of our view of Universal History, in investigating the aspect of political affairs in the most recent period.
We have next to notice the rise of this idea – that Reason directs the World – in connection with a further application of it, well known to us – in the form, viz., of the religious truth, that the world is not abandoned to chance and external contingent causes, but that a Providence controls it. I stated above, that I would not make a demand on your faith, in regard to the principle announced. Yet I might appeal to your belief in it, in this religious aspect, if, as a general rule, the nature of philosophical science allowed it to attach authority to presuppositions. To put it in another shape – this appeal is forbidden, because the science of which we have to treat, proposes itself to furnish the proof (not indeed of the abstract Truth of the doctrine, but) of its correctness as compared with facts. The truth, then, that a Providence (that of God) presides over the events of the World – consorts with the proposition in question; for Divine Providence is Wisdom, endowed with an infinite Power, which realizes its aim, viz., the absolute rational design of the World. Reason is Thought conditioning itself with perfect freedom. But a difference – rather a contradiction – will manifest itself, between this belief and our principle, just as was the case in reference to the demand made by Socrates in the case of Anaxagoras’s dictum. For that belief is similarly indefinite; it is what is called a belief in a general Providence, and is not followed out into definite application, or displayed in its bearing on the grand total – the entire course of human history. But to explain History is to depict the passions of mankind, the genius, the active powers, that play their part on the great stage; and the providentially determined process which these exhibit, constitutes what is generally called the “plan” of Providence. Yet it is this very plan which is supposed to be concealed from our view: which it is deemed presumption, even to wish to recognize. The ignorance of Anaxagoras, as to how intelligence reveals itself in actual existence, was ingenuous. Neither in his consciousness, nor in that of Greece at large, had that thought been farther expanded. He had not attained the power to apply his general principle to the concrete, so as to deduce the latter from the former. It was Socrates who took the first step in comprehending the union of the Concrete with the Universal. Anaxagoras, then, did not take up a hostile position toward such an application. The common belief in Providence does; at least it opposes the use of the principle on the large scale, and denies the possibility of discerning the plan of Providence. In isolated cases this plan is supposed to be manifest. Pious persons are encouraged to recognize in particular circumstances, something more than mere chance; to acknowledge the guiding hand of God; e.g., when help has unexpectedly come to an individual in great perplexity and need. But these instances of providential design are of a limited kind, and concern the accomplishment of nothing more than the desires of the individual in question. But in the history of the World, the Individuals we have to do with are Peoples; Totalities that are States. We cannot, therefore, be satisfied with what we may call this “peddling” view of Providence, to which the belief alluded to limits itself. Equally unsatisfactory is the merely abstract, undefined belief in a Providence, when that belief is not brought to bear upon the details of the process which it conducts. On the contrary our earnest endeavor must be directed to the recognition of the ways of Providence, the means it uses, and the historical phenomena in which it manifests itself; and we must show their connection with the general principle above mentioned. But in noticing the recognition of the plan of Divine Providence generally, I have implicitly touched upon a prominent question of the day; viz., that of the possibility of knowing God: or rather – since public opinion has ceased to allow it to be a matter of question – the doctrine that it is impossible to know God. In direct contravention of what is commanded in holy Scripture as the highest duty – that we should not merely love, but know God – the prevalent dogma involves the denial of what is there said; viz., that it is the Spirit (der Geist) that leads into Truth, knows all things, penetrates even into the deep things of the Godhead. While the Divine Being is thus placed beyond our knowledge, and outside the limit of all human things, we have the convenient license of wandering as far as we list, in the direction of our own fancies. We are freed from the obligation to refer our knowledge to the Divine and True. On the other hand, the vanity and egotism which characterize it find, in this false position, ample justification; and the pious modesty which puts far from it the knowledge of God can well estimate how much furtherance thereby accrues to its own wayward and vain strivings. I have been unwilling to leave out of sight the connection between our thesis – that Reason governs and has governed the World – and the question of the possibility of a knowledge of God, chiefly that I might not lose the opportunity of mentioning the imputation against Philosophy of being shy of noticing religious truths, or of having occasion to be so; in which is insinuated the suspicion that it has anything but a clear conscience in the presence of these truths. So far from this being the case, the fact is, that in recent times Philosophy has been obliged to defend the domain of religion against the attacks of several theological systems. In the Christian religion God has revealed Himself – that is, he has given us to understand what He is; so that He is no longer a concealed or secret existence. And this possibility of knowing Him, thus afforded us, renders such knowledge a duty. God wishes no narrow-hearted souls or empty heads for his children; but those whose spirit is of itself indeed poor, but rich in the knowledge of Him; and who regard this knowledge of God as the only valuable possession. That development of the thinking spirit which has resulted from the revelation of the Divine Being as its original basis must ultimately advance to the intellectual comprehension of what was presented in the first instance, to feeling and imagination. The time must eventually come for understanding that rich product of active Reason, which the History of the World offers to us. It was for awhile the fashion to profess admiration for the wisdom of God as displayed in animals, plants, and isolated occurrences. But, if it be allowed that Providence manifests itself in such objects and forms of existence, why not also in Universal History? This is deemed too great a matter to be thus regarded. But Divine Wisdom, i.e., Reason, is one and the same in the great as in the little; and we must not imagine God to be too weak to exercise his wisdom on the grand scale. Our intellectual striving aims at realizing the conviction that what was intended by eternal wisdom, is actually accomplished in the domain of existent, active Spirit, as well as in that of mere Nature. Our mode of treating the subject is, in this aspect, a Theodicaea – a justification of the ways of God – which Leibnitz attempted metaphysically, in his method, i.e., in indefinite abstract categories – so that the ill that is found in the World may be comprehended, and the thinking Spirit reconciled with the fact of the existence of evil. Indeed, nowhere is such a harmonizing view more pressingly demanded than in Universal History; and it can be attained only by recognizing the positive existence, in which that negative element is a subordinate, and vanquished nullity. On the one hand, the ultimate design of the World must be perceived; and, on the other hand, the fact that this design has been actually realized in it, and that evil has not been able permanently to assert a competing position. But this superintending vows, or in “Providence.” “Reason,” whose sovereignty over the World has been maintained, is as indefinite a term as “Providence,” supposing the term to be used by those who are unable to characterize it distinctly – to show wherein it consists, so as to enable us to decide whether a thing is rational or irrational. An adequate definition of Reason is the first desideratum; and whatever boast may be made of strict adherence to it in explaining phenomena – without such a definition we get no farther than mere words. With these observations we may proceed to the second point of view that has to be considered in this Introduction.
II. The inquiry into the essential destiny of Reason – as far as it is considered in reference to the World – is identical with the question, what is the ultimate design of the World? And the expression implies that that design is destined to be realized. Two points of consideration suggest themselves; first, the import of this design – its abstract definition; and secondly, its realization.
It must be observed at the outset, that the phenomenon we investigate – Universal History – belongs to the realm of Spirit. The term “ World,” includes both physical and psychical Nature. Physical Nature also plays its part in the World’s History, and attention will have to be paid to the fundamental natural relations thus involved. But Spirit, and the course of its development, is our substantial object. Our task does not require us to contemplate Nature as a Rational System in itself – though in its own proper domain it proves itself such – but simply in its relation to Spirit. On the stage on which we are observing it – Universal History – Spirit displays itself in its most concrete reality. Notwithstanding this (or rather for the very purpose of comprehending the general principles which this, its form of concrete reality, embodies) we must premise some abstract characteristics of the nature of Spirit. Such an explanation, however, cannot be given here under any other form than that of bare assertion. The present is not the occasion for unfolding the idea of Spirit speculatively; for whatever has a place in an Introduction, must, as already observed, be taken as simply historical; something assumed as having been explained and proved elsewhere; or whose demonstration awaits the sequel of the Science of History itself. We have therefore to mention here: (1) The abstract characteristics of the nature of Spirit. (2) What means Spirit uses in order to realize its Idea. (3) Lastly, we must consider the shape which the perfect embodiment of Spirit assumes – the State, (1) The nature of Spirit may be understood by a glance at its direct opposite – Matter. As the essence of Matter is Gravity, so, on the other hand, we may affirm that the substance, the essence of Spirit is Freedom. All will readily assent to the doctrine that Spirit, among other properties, is also endowed with Freedom; but philosophy teaches that all the qualities of Spirit exist only through Freedom; that all are but means for attaining Freedom; that all seek and produce this and this alone. It is a result of speculative Philosophy that Freedom is the sole truth of Spirit. Matter possesses gravity in virtue of its tendency toward a central point. It is essentially composite; consisting of parts that exclude each other. It seeks its Unity; and therefore exhibits itself as self-destructive, as verging toward its opposite [an indivisible point]. If it could attain this, it would be Matter no longer, it would have perished. It strives after the realization of its Idea; for in Unity it exists ideally. Spirit, on the contrary, may be defined as that which has its centre in itself. It has not a unity outside itself, but has already found it; it exists in and with itself. Matter has its essence out of itself; Spirit is self-contained existence (Bei-sich-selbst-seyn). Now this is Freedom, exactly. For if I am dependent, my being is referred to something else which I am not; I cannot exist independently of something external. I am free, on the contrary, when my existence depends upon myself. This self-contained existence of Spirit is none other than self-consciousness – consciousness of one’s own being. Two things must be distinguished in consciousness; first, the fact that I know; secondly, what I know. In self consciousness these are merged in one; for Spirit knows itself. It involves an appreciation of its own nature, as also an energy enabling it to realize itself; to make itself actually that which it is potentially. According to this abstract definition it may be said of Universal History, that it is the exhibition of Spirit in the process of working out the knowledge of that which it is potentially. And as the germ bears in itself the whole nature of the tree, and the taste and form of its fruits, so do the first traces of Spirit virtually contain the whole of that History. The Orientals have not attained the knowledge that Spirit – Man as such – is free; and because they do not know this, they are not free. They only know that one is free. But on this very account, the freedom of that one is only caprice; ferocity – brutal recklessness of passion, or a mildness and tameness of the desires, which is itself only an accident of Nature – mere caprice like the former. – That one is therefore only a Despot; not a free man. The consciousness of Freedom first arose among the Greeks, and therefore they were free; but they, and the Romans likewise, knew only that some are free – not man as such. Even Plato and Aristotle did not know this. The Greeks, therefore, had slaves; and their whole life and the maintenance of their splendid liberty, was implicated with the institution of slavery: a fact moreover, which made that liberty on the one hand only an accidental, transient and limited growth; on the other hand, constituted it a rigorous thraldom of our common nature – of the Human. The German nations, under the influence of Christianity, were the first to attain the consciousness that man, as man, is free: that it is the freedom of Spirit which constitutes its essence. This consciousness arose first in religion, the inmost region of Spirit; but to introduce the principle into the various relations of the actual world involves a more extensive problem than its simple implantation; a problem whose solution and application require a severe and lengthened process of culture. In proof of this, we may note that slavery did not cease immediately on the reception of Christianity. Still less did liberty predominate in States; or Governments and Constitutions adopt a rational organization, or recognize freedom as their basis. That application of the principle to political relations; the thorough moulding and interpenetration of the constitution of society by it, is a process identical with history itself. I have already directed attention to the distinction here involved, between a principle as such, and its application; i.e., its introduction and carrying out in the actual phenomena of Spirit and Life. This is a point of fundamental importance in our science, and one which must be constantly respected as essential. And in the same way as this distinction has attracted attention in view of the Christian principle of selfconsciousness – Freedom; it also shows itself as an essential one, in view of the principle of Freedom generally. The History of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of Freedom; a progress whose development according to the necessity of its nature, it is our business to investigate. The general statement given above, of the various grades in the consciousness of Freedom – and which we applied in the first instance to the fact that the Eastern nations knew only that one is free; the Greek and Roman world only that some are free; while we know that all men absolutely (man as man) are free – supplies us with the natural division of Universal History, and suggests the mode of its discussion. This is remarked, however, only incidentally and anticipatively; some other ideas must be first explained.
The destiny of the spiritual World, and – since this is the substantial World, while the physical remains subordinate to it, or, in the language of speculation, has no truth as against the spiritual – the final cause of the World at large, we allege to be the consciousness of its own freedom on the part of Spirit, and ipso facto, the reality of that freedom. But that this term “Freedom,” without further qualification, is an indefinite, and incalculable ambiguous term; and that while that which it represents is the ne plus ultra of attainment, it is liable to an infinity of misunderstandings, confusions and errors, and to become the occasion for all imaginable excesses – has never been more clearly known and felt than in modern times. Yet, for the present, we must content ourselves with the term itself without farther definition. Attention was also directed to the importance of the infinite difference between a principle in the abstract, and its realization in the concrete. In the process before us, the essential nature of freedom – which involves in it absolute necessity – is to be displayed as coming to a consciousness of itself (for it is in its very nature, self-consciousness) and thereby realizing its existence. Itself is its own object of attainment, and the sole aim of Spirit. This result it is, at which the process of the World’s History has been continually aiming; and to which the sacrifices that have ever and anon been laid on the vast altar of the earth, through the long lapse of ages, have been offered. This is the only aim that sees itself realized and fulfilled; the only pole of repose amid the ceaseless change of events and conditions, and the sole efficient principle that pervades them. This final aim is God’s purpose with the world; but God is the absolutely perfect Being, and can, therefore, will nothing other than himself – his own Will. The Nature of His Will – that is, His Nature itself – is what we here call the Idea of Freedom; translating the language of Religion into that of Thought. The question, then, which we may next put is: What means does this principle of Freedom use for its realization? This is the second point we have to consider. (2) The question of the means by which Freedom develops itself to a World, conducts us to the phenomenon of History itself. Although Freedom is, primarily, an undeveloped idea, the means it uses are external and phenomenal; presenting themselves in History to our sensuous vision. The first glance at History convinces us that the actions of men proceed from their needs, their passions, their characters and talents; and impresses us with the belief that such needs, passions and interests are the sole springs of action – the efficient agents in this scene of activity. Among these may, perhaps, be found aims of a liberal or universal kind – benevolence it may be, or noble patriotism; but such virtues and general views are but insignificant as compared with the World and its doings. We may perhaps see the Ideal of Reason actualized in those who adopt such aims, and within the sphere of their influence; but they bear only a trifling proportion to the mass of the human race; and the extent of that influence is limited accordingly. Passions, private aims, and the satisfaction of selfish desires, are on the other hand, most effective springs of action. Their power lies in the fact that they respect none of the limitations which justice and morality would impose on them; and that these natural impulses have a more direct influence over man than the artificial and tedious discipline that tends to order and self-restraint, law and morality. When we look at this display of passions, and the consequences of their violence; the Unreason which is associated not only with them, but even (rather we might say especially) with good designs and righteous aims; when we see the evil, the vice, the ruin that has befallen the most flourishing kingdoms which the mind of man ever created; we can scarce avoid being filled with sorrow at this universal taint of corruption: and, since this decay is not the work of mere Nature, but of the Human Will – a moral embitterment – a revolt of the Good Spirit (if it have a place within us) may well be the result of our reflections. Without rhetorical exaggeration, a simply truthful combination of the miseries that have overwhelmed the noblest of nations and polities, and the finest exemplars of private virtue – forms a picture of most fearful aspect, and excites emotions of the profoundest and most hopeless sadness, counterbalanced by no consolatory result. We endure in beholding it a mental torture, allowing no defence or escape but the consideration that what has happened could not be otherwise; that it is a fatality which no intervention could alter. And at last we draw back from the intolerable disgust with which these sorrowful reflections threaten us, into the more agreeable environment of our individual life – the Present formed by our private aims and interests. In short we retreat into the selfishness that stands on the quiet shore, and thence enjoys in safety the distant spectacle of “wrecks confusedly hurled.” 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. From this point the investigation usually proceeds to that which we have made the general commencement of our inquiry. Starting from this we pointed out those phenomena which made up a picture so suggestive of gloomy emotions and thoughtful reflections – as the very field which we, for our part, regard as exhibiting only the means for realizing what we assert to be the essential destiny – the absolute aim, or – which comes to the same thing – the true result of the World’s History. We have all along purposely eschewed “moral reflections” as a method of rising from the scene of historical specialties to the general principles which they embody. Besides, it is not the interest of such sentimentalities, really to rise above those depressing emotions; and to solve the enigmas of Providence which the considerations that occasioned them, present. It is essential to their character to find a gloomy satisfaction in the empty and fruitless sublimities of that negative result. We return them to the point of view which we have adopted; observing that the successive steps (momente) of the analysis to which it will lead us, will also evolve the conditions requisite for answering the inquiries suggested by the panorama of sin and suffering that history unfolds.
The first remark we have to make, and which – though already presented more than once – cannot be too often repeated when the occasion seems to call for it – is that what we call principle, aim, destiny, or the nature and idea of Spirit, is something merely general and abstract. Principle – Plan of Existence – Law – is a hidden, undeveloped essence, which as such – however true in itself – is not completely real. Aims, principles, etc., have a place in our thoughts, in our subjective design only; but not yet in the sphere of reality. That which exists for itself only, is a possibility, a potentiality; but has not yet emerged into Existence. A second element must be introduced in order to produce actuality – viz., actuation, realization; and whose motive power is the Will – the activity of man in the widest sense. It is only by this activity that that Idea as well as abstract characteristics generally, are realized, actualized; for of themselves they are powerless. The motive power that puts them in operation, and gives them determinate existence, is the need, instinct, inclination, and passion of man. That some conception of mine should be developed into act and existence, is my earnest desire: I wish to assert my personality in connection with it: I wish to be satisfied by its execution. If I am to exert myself for any object, it must in some way or other be my object. In the accomplishment of such or such designs I must at the same time find my satisfaction; although the purpose for which I exert myself includes a complication of results, many of which have no interest for me. This is the absolute right of personal existence – to find itself satisfied in its activity and labor. If men are to interest themselves for anything, they must (so to speak) have part of their existence involved in it; find their individuality gratified by its attainment. Here a mistake must be avoided. We intend blame, and justly impute it as a fault, when we say of an individual, that he is “interested” (in taking part in such or such transactions), that is, seeks only his private advantage. In reprehending this we find fault with him for furthering his personal aims without any regard to a more comprehensive design; of which he takes advantage to promote his own interest, or which he even sacrifices with this view. But he who is active in promoting an object is not simply “interested,” but interested in that object itself. Language faithfully expresses this distinction. – Nothing therefore happens, nothing is accomplished, unless the individuals concerned, seek their own satisfaction in the issue. They are particular units of society; i.e., they have special needs, instincts, and interests generally, peculiar to themselves. Among these needs are not only such as we usually call necessities – the stimuli of individual desire and volition – but also those connected with individual views and convictions; or – to use a term expressing less decision – leanings of opinion; supposing the impulses of reflection, understanding, and reason, to have been awakened. In these cases people demand, if they are to exert themselves in any direction, that the object should commend itself to them; that in point of opinion – whether as to its goodness, justice, advantage, profit – they should be able to “enter into it” (dabei seyn). This is a consideration of especial importance in our age, when people are less than formerly influenced by reliance on others, and by authority; when, on the contrary, they devote their activities to a cause on the ground of their own understanding, their independent conviction and opinion.
We assert then that nothing has been accomplished without interest on the part of the actors; and – if interest be called passion, inasmuch as the whole individuality, to the neglect of all other actual or possible interests and claims, is devoted to an object with every fibre of volition, concentrating all its desires and powers upon it – we may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the World has been accomplished without passion. Two elements, therefore, enter into the object of our investigation; the first the Idea, the second the complex of human passions; the one the warp, the other the woof of the vast arras-web of Universal History. The concrete mean and union of the two is Liberty, under the conditions of morality in a State. We have spoken of the Idea of Freedom as the nature of Spirit, and the absolute goal of History. Passion is regarded as a thing of sinister aspect, as more or less immoral. Man is required to have no passions. Passion, it is true, is not quite the suitable word for what I wish to express. I mean here nothing more than the human activity as resulting from private interests – special, or if you will, selfseeking designs – with this qualification, that the whole energy of will and character is devoted to their attainment; that other interests (which would in themselves constitute attractive aims) or rather all things else, are sacrificed to them. The object in question is so bound up with the man’s will, that it entirely and alone determines the “hue of resolution,” and is inseparable from it. It has become the very essence of his volition. For a person is a specific existence; not man in general (a term to which no real existence corresponds) but a particular human being. The term “character” likewise expresses this idiosyncrasy of Will and Intelligence. But Character comprehends all peculiarities whatever; the way in which a person conducts himself in private relations, etc., and is not limited to his idiosyncrasy in its practical and active phase. I shall, therefore, use the term “passions”; understanding thereby the particular bent of character, as far as the peculiarities of volition are not limited to private interest, but supply the impelling and actuating force for accomplishing deeds shared in by the community at large. Passion is in the first instance the subjective, and therefore the formal side of energy, will, and activity – leaving the object or aim still undetermined. And there is a similar relation of formality to reality in merely individual conviction, individual views, individual conscience. It is always a question of essential importance, what is the purport of my conviction, what the object of my passion, in deciding whether the one or the other is of a true and substantial nature. Conversely, if it is so, it will inevitably attain actual existence – be realized.
From this comment on the second essential element in the historical embodiment of an aim, we infer – glancing at the institution of the State in passing – that a State is then well constituted and internally powerful, when the private interest of its citizens is one with the common interest of the State; when the one finds its gratification and realization in the other – a proposition in itself very important. But in a State many institutions must be adopted, much political machinery invented, accompanied by appropriate political arrangements – necessitating long struggles of the understanding before what is really appropriate can be discovered – involving, moreover, contentions with private interest and passions, and a tedious discipline of these latter, in order to bring about the desired harmony. The epoch when a State attains this harmonious conditon, marks the period of its bloom, its virtue, its vigor, and its prosperity. But the history of mankind does not begin with a conscious aim of any kind, as it is the case with the particular circles into which men form themselves of set purpose. The mere social instinct implies a conscious purpose of security for life and property; and when society has been constituted, this purpose becomes more comprehensive. The History of the World begins with its general aim – the realization of the Idea of Spirit – only in an implicit form (an sich) that is, as Nature; a hidden, most profoundly hidden, unconscious instinct; and the whole process of History (as already observed), is directed to rendering this unconscious impulse a conscious one. Thus appearing in the form of merely natural existence, natural will – that which has been called the subjective side – physical craving, instinct, passion, private interest, as also opinion and subjective conception – spontaneously present themselves at the very commencement. This vast congeries of volitions, interests and activities, constitute the instruments and means of the World- Spirit for attaining its object; bringing it to consciousness, and realizing it. And this aim is none other than finding itself – coming to itself – and contemplating itself in concrete actuality. But that those manifestations of vitality on the part of individuals and peoples, in which they seek and satisfy their own purposes, are, at the same time, the means and instruments of a higher and broader purpose of which they know nothing – which they realize unconsciously – might be made a matter of question; rather has been questioned, and in every variety of form negatived, decried and contemned as mere dreaming and “Philosophy.” But on this point I announced my view at the very outset, and asserted our hypothesis – which, however, will appear in the sequel, in the form of a legitimate inference – and our belief that Reason governs the world, and has consequently governed its history. In relation to this independently universal and substantial existence – all else is subordinate, subservient to it, and the means for its development. – The Union of Universal Abstract Existence generally with the Individual – the Subjective – that this alone is Truth, belongs to the department of speculation, and is treated in this general form in Logic. – But in the process of the World’s History itself – as still incomplete – the abstract final aim of history is not yet made the distinct object of desire and interest. While these limited sentiments are still unconscious of the purpose they are fulfilling, the universal principle is implicit in them, and is realizing itself through them. The question also assumes the form of the union of Freedom and Necessity; the latent abstract process of Spirit being regarded as Necessity, while that which exhibits itself in the conscious will of men, as their interest, belongs to the domain of Freedom. As the metaphysical connection (i.e., the connection in the Idea) of these forms of thought, belongs to Logic, it would be out of place to analyze it here. The chief and cardinal points only shall be mentioned.
Philosophy shows that the Idea advances to an infinite antithesis; that, viz., between the Idea in its free, universal form – in which it exists for itself – and the contrasted form of abstract introversion, reflection on itself, which is formal existence-for-self, personality, formal freedom, such as belongs to Spirit only. The universal Idea exists thus as the substantial totality of things on the one side, and as the abstract essence of free volition on the other side. This reflection of the mind on itself is individual self-consciousness – the polar opposite of the Idea in its general form, and therefore existing in absolute Limitation. This polar opposite is consequently limitation, particularization, for the universal absolute being; it is the side of its definite existence; the sphere of its formal reality, the sphere of the reverence paid to God. – To comprehend the absolute connection of this antithesis, is the profound task of metaphysics. This Limitation originates all forms of particularity of whatever kind. The formal volition (of which we have spoken) wills itself; desires to make its own personality valid in all that it purposes and does: even the pious individual wishes to be saved and happy. This pole of the antithesis, existing for itself, is – in contrast with the Absolute Universal Being – a special separate existence, taking cognizance of specialty only, and willing that alone. In short it plays its part in the region of mere phenomena. This is the sphere of particular purposes, in effecting which individuals exert themselves on behalf of their individuality – give it full play and objective realization. This is also the sphere of happiness and its opposite. He is happy who finds his condition suited to his special character, will, and fancy, and so enjoys himself in that condition. The History of the World is not the theatre of happiness. Periods of happiness are blank pages in it, for they are periods of harmony – periods when the antithesis is in abeyance. Reflection on self – the Freedom above described – is abstractly defined as the formal element of the activity of the absolute Idea. The realizing activity of which we have spoken is the middle term of the Syllogism, one of whose extremes is the Universal essence, the Idea, which reposes in the penetralia of Spirit; and the other, the complex of external things – objective matter. That activity is the medium by which the universal latent principle is translated into the domain of objectivity.
I will endeavor to make what has been said more vivid and clear by examples.
The building of a house is, in the first instance, a subjective aim and design. On the other hand we have, as means, the several substances required for the work – Iron, Wood, Stones.
The elements are made use of in working up this material: fire to melt the iron, wind to blow the fire, water to set wheels in motion, in order to cut the wood, etc. The result is, that the wind, which has helped to build the house, is shut out by the house; so also are the violence of rains and floods, and the destructive powers of fire, so far as the house is made fireproof. The stones and beams obey the law of gravity – press downward – and so high walls are carried up. Thus the elements are made use of in accordance with their nature, and yet to co-operate for a product, by which their operation is limited. Thus the passions of men are gratified; they develop themselves and their aims in accordance with their natural tendencies, and build up the edifice of human society; thus fortifying a position for Right and Order against themselves.
The connection of events above indicated, involves also the fact, that in history an additional result is commonly produced by human actions beyond that which they aim at and obtain – that which they immediately recognize and desire. They gratify their own interest; but something further is thereby accomplished, latent in the actions in question, though not present to their consciousness, and not included in their design. An analogous example is offered in the case of a man who, from a feeling of revenge – perhaps not an unjust one, but produced by injury on the other’s part – burns that other man’s house. A connection is immediately established between the deed itself and a train of circumstances not directly included in it, taken abstractedly. In itself it consisted in merely presenting a small flame to a small portion of a beam. Events not involved in that simple act follow of themselves. The part of the beam which was set fire to is connected with its remote portions; the beam itself is united with the woodwork of the house generally, and this with other houses; so that a wide conflagration, ensues, which destroys the goods and chattels of many other persons besides his against whom the act of revenge was first directed; perhaps even costs not a few men their lives. This lay neither in the deed abstractedly, nor in the design of the man who committed it. But the action has a further general bearing. In the design of the doer it was only revenge executed against an individual in the destruction of his property, but it is moreover a crime, and that involves punishment also. This may not have been present to the mind of the perpetrator, still less in his intention; but his deed itself, the general principles it calls into play, its substantial content entails it. By this example I wish only to impress on you the consideration, that in a simple act, something further may be implicated than lies in the intention and consciousness of the agent. The example before us involves, however, this additional consideration, that the substance of the act, consequently we may say the act itself, recoils upon the perpetrator – reacts upon him with destructive tendency. This union of the two extremes – the embodiment of a general idea in the form of direct reality, and the elevation of a speciality into connection with universal truth – is brought to pass, at first sight, under the conditions of an utter diversity of nature between the two, and an indifference of the one extreme towards the other. The aims which the agents set before them are limited and special; but it must be remarked that the agents themselves are intelligent thinking beings. The purport of their desires is interwoven with general, essential considerations of justice, good, duty, etc.; for mere desire – volition in its rough and savage forms – falls not within the scene and sphere of Universal History. Those general considerations, which form at the same time a norm for directing aims and actions, have a determinate purport; for such an abstraction as “good for its own sake,” has no place in living reality. If men are to act, they must not only intend the Good, but must have decided for themselves whether this or that particular thing is a Good. What special course of action, however, is good or not, is determined, as regards the ordinary contingencies of private life, by the laws and customs of a State; and here no great difficulty is presented. Each individual has his position; he knows on the whole what a just, honorable course of conduct is. As to ordinary, private relations, the assertion that it is difficult to choose the right and good – the regarding it as the mark of an exalted morality to find difficulties and raise scruples on that score – may be set down to an evil or perverse will, which seeks to evade duties not in themselves of a perplexing nature; or, at any rate, to an idly reflective habit of mind – where a feeble will affords no sufficient exercise to the faculties – leaving them therefore to find occupation within themselves, and to expend themselves on moral self-adulation.
It is quite otherwise with the comprehensive relations that History has to do with. In this sphere are presented those momentous collisions between existing, acknowledged duties, laws, and rights, and those contingencies which are adverse to this fixed system; which assail and even destroy its foundations and existence; whose tenor may nevertheless seem good – on the large scale advantageous – yes, even indispensable and necessary. These contingencies realize themselves in History: they involve a general principle of a different order from that on which depends the permanence of a people or a State. This principle is an essential phase in the development of the creating Idea, of Truth striving and urging towards (consciousness of) itself. Historical men – World-Historical Individuals – are those in whose aims such a general principle lies.
Caesar, in danger of losing a position, not perhaps at that time of superiority, yet at least of equality with the others who were at the head of the State, and of succumbing to those who were just on the point of becoming his enemies – belongs essentially to this category. These enemies – who were at the same time pursuing their personal aims – had the form of the constitution, and the power conferred by an appearance of justice, on their side. Caesar was contending for the maintenance of his position, honor, and safety; and, since the power of his opponents included the sovereignty over the provinces of the Roman Empire, his victory secured for him the conquest of that entire Empire; and he thus became – though leaving the form of the constitution – the Autocrat of the State. That which secured for him the execution of a design, which in the first instance was of negative import – the Autocracy of Rome – was, however, at the same time an independently necessary feature in the history of Rome and of the world. It was not, then, his private gain merely, but an unconscious impulse that occasioned the accomplishment of that for which the time was ripe. Such are all great historical men – whose own particular aims involve those large issues which are the will of the World-Spirit. They may be called Heroes, inasmuch as they have derived their purposes and their vocation, not from the calm, regular course of things, sanctioned by the existing order; but from a concealed fount – one which has not attained to phenomenal, present existence – from that inner Spirit, still hidden beneath the surface, which, impinging on the outer world as on a shell, bursts it in pieces, because it is another kernel than that which belonged to the shell in question. They are men, therefore, who appear to draw the impulse of their life from themselves; and whose deeds have produced a condition of things and a complex of historical relations which appear to be only their interest, and their work. Such individuals had no consciousness of the general Idea they were unfolding, while prosecuting those aims of theirs; on the contrary, they were practical, political men. But at the same time they were thinking men, who had an insight into the requirements of the time – what was ripe for development. This was the very Truth for their age, for their world; the species next in order, so to speak, and which was already formed in the womb of time. It was theirs to know this nascent principle; the necessary, directly sequent step in progress, which their world was to take; to make this their aim, and to expend their energy in promoting it. World-historical men – the Heroes of an epoch – must, therefore, be recognized as its clear-sighted ones; their deeds, their words are the best of that time. Great men have formed purposes to satisfy themselves, not others. Whatever prudent designs and counsels they might have learned from others, would be the more limited and inconsistent features in their career; for it was they who best understood affairs; from whom others learned, and approved, or at least acquiesced in – their policy. For that Spirit which had taken this fresh step in history is the inmost soul of all individuals; but in a state of unconsciousness which the great men in question aroused. Their fellows, therefore, follow these soul-leaders; for they feel the irresistible power of their own inner Spirit thus embodied. If we go on to cast a look at the fate of these World-Historical persons, whose vocation it was to be the agents of the World-Spirit – we shall find it to have been no happy one. They attained no calm enjoyment; their whole life was labor and trouble; their whole nature was nought else but their master-passion. When their object is attained they fall off like empty hulls from the kernel. They die early, like Alexander; they are murdered, like Caesar; transported to St. Helena, like Napoleon. This fearful consolation – that historical men have not enjoyed what is called happiness, and of which only private life (and this may be passed under very various external circumstances) is capable – this consolation those may draw from history, who stand in need of it; and it is craved by Envy – vexed at what is great and transcendant – striving, therefore, to depreciate it, and to find some flaw in it. Thus in modern times it has been demonstrated ad nauseam that princes are generally unhappy on their thrones; in consideration of which the possession of a throne is tolerated, and men acquiesce in the fact that not themselves but the personages in question are its occupants. The Free Man, we may observe, is not envious, but gladly recognizes what is great and exalted, and rejoices that it exists.
It is in the light of those common elements which constitute the interest and therefore the passions of individuals, that these historical men are to be regarded. They are great men, because they willed and accomplished something great; not a mere fancy, a mere intention, but that which met the case and fell in with the needs of the age. This mode of considering them also excludes the so-called “psychological” view, which – serving the purpose of envy most effectually – contrives so to refer all actions to the heart – to bring them under such a subjective aspect – as that their authors appear to have done everything under the impulse of some passion, mean or grand – some morbid craving – and on account of these passions and cravings to have been not moral men. Alexander of Macedon partly subdued Greece, and then Asia; therefore he was possessed by a morbid craving for conquest. He is alleged to have acted from a craving for fame, for conquest; and the proof that these were the impelling motives is that he did that which resulted in fame. What pedagogue has not demonstrated of Alexander the Great – of Julius Caesar – that they were instigated by such passions, and were consequently immoral men? – whence the conclusion immediately follows that he, the pedagogue, is a better man than they, because he has not such passions; a proof of which lies in the fact that he does not conquer Asia – vanquish Darius and Porus – but while he enjoys life himself, lets others enjoy it too. These psychologists are particularly fond of contemplating those peculiarities of great historical figures which appertain to them as private persons. Man must eat and drink; he sustains relations to friends and acquaintances; he has passing impulses and ebullitions of temper. “No man is a hero to his valet-de-chambre” is a well-known proverb; I have added – and Goethe repeated it ten years later – “but not because the former is no hero, but because the latter is a valet.” He takes off the hero’s boots, assists him to bed, knows that he prefers champagne, etc. Historical personages waited upon in historical literature by such psychological valets, come poorly off; they are brought down by these their attendants to a level with – or rather a few degrees below the level of – the morality of such exquisite discerners of spirits. The Thersites of Homer who abuses the kings is a standing figure for all times. Blows – that is beating with a solid cudgel – he does not get in every age, as in the Homeric one; but his envy, his egotism, is the thorn which he has to carry in his flesh; and the undying worm that gnaws him is the tormenting consideration that his excellent views and vituperations remain absolutely without result in the world. But our satisfaction at the fate of Thersitism also may have its sinister side.
A World-historical individual is not so unwise as to indulge a variety of wishes to divide his regards. He is devoted to the One Aim, regardless of all else. It is even possible that such men may treat other great, even sacred interests, inconsiderately; conduct which is indeed obnoxious to moral reprehension. But so mighty a form must trample down many an innocent flower – crush to pieces many an object in its path.
The special interest of passion is thus inseparable from the active development of a general principle: for it is from the special and determinate and from its negation, that the Universal results. Particularity contends with its like, and some loss is involved in the issue. It is not the general idea that is implicated in opposition and combat, and that is exposed to danger. It remains in the background, untouched and uninjured. This may be called the cunning of reason – that it sets the passions to work for itself, while that which develops its existence through such impulsion pays the penalty, and suffers loss. For it is phenomenal being that is so treated, and of this part is of no value, part is positive and real. The particular is for the most part of too trifling value as compared with the general: individuals are sacrificed and abandoned. The Idea pays the penalty of determinate existence and of corruptibility, not from itself, but from the passions of individuals.
But though we might tolerate the idea that individuals, their desires and the gratification of them, are thus sacrificed, and their happiness given up to the empire of chance, to which it belongs; and that as a general rule, individuals come under the category of means to an ulterior end – there is one aspect of human individuality which we should hesitate to regard in that subordinate light, even in relation to the highest; since it is absolutely no subordinate element, but exists in those individuals as inherently eternal and divine. I mean morality, ethics, religion. Even when speaking of the realization of the great ideal aim by means of individuals, the subjective element in them – their interest and that of their cravings and impulses, their views and judgments, though exhibited as the merely formal side of their existence – was spoken of as having an infinite right to be consulted. The first idea that presents itself in speaking of means is that of something external to the object, and having no share in the object itself. But merely natural things – even the commonest lifeless objects – used as means, must be of such a kind as adapts them to their purpose; they must possess something in common with it. Human beings least of all sustain the bare external relation of mere means to the great ideal aim. Not only do they in the very act of realizing it, make it the occasion of satisfying personal desires, whose purport is diverse from that aim – but they share in that ideal aim itself; and are for that very reason objects of their own existence; not formally merely, as the world of living beings generally is – whose individual life is essentially subordinate to that of man, and is properly used up as an instrument. Men, on the contrary, are objects of existence to themselves, as regards the intrinsic import of the aim in question. To this order belongs that in them which we would exclude from the category of mere means – Morality, Ethics, Religion. That is to say, man is an object of existence in himself only in virtue of the Divine that is in him – that which was designated at the outset as Reason; which, in view of its activity and power of self-determination, was called Freedom. And we affirm – without entering at present on the proof of the assertion – that Religion, Morality, etc., have their foundation and source in that principle, and so are essentially elevated above all alien necessity and chance. And here we must remark that individuals, to the extent of their freedom, are responsible for the depravation and enfeeblement of morals and religion. This is the seal of the absolute and sublime destiny of man – that he knows what is good and what is evil; that his Destiny is his very ability to will either good or evil – in one word, that he is the subject of moral imputation, imputation not only of evil, but of good; and not only concerning this or that particular matter, and all that happens ab extra, but also the good and evil attaching to his individual freedom. The brute alone is simply innocent. It would, however, demand an extensive explanation – as extensive as the analysis of moral freedom itself – to preclude or obviate all the misunderstandings which the statement that what is called innocence imports the entire unconsciousness of evil – is wont to occasion.
In contemplating the fate which virtue, morality, even piety experience in history, we must not fall into the Litany of Lamentations, that the good and pious often – or for the most part – fare ill in the world, while the evil-disposed and wicked prosper. The term prosperity is used in a variety of meanings – riches, outward honor, and the like. But in speaking of something which in and for itself constitutes an aim of existence, that so-called well or ill-faring of these or those isolated individuals cannot be regarded as an essential element in the rational order of the universe. With more justice than happiness – or a fortunate environment for individuals – it is demanded of the grand aim of the world’s existence, that it should foster, nay involve the execution and ratification of good, moral, righteous purposes. What makes men morally discontented (a discontent, by the bye, on which they somewhat pride themselves), is that they do not find the present adapted to the realization of aims which they hold to be right and just (more especially in modern times, ideals of political constitutions); they contrast unfavorably things as they are, with their idea of things as they ought to be. In this case it is not private interest nor passion that desires gratification, but Reason, Justice, Liberty; and equipped with this title, the demand in question assumes a lofty bearing, and readily adopts a position not merely of discontent, but of open revolt against the actual condition of the world. To estimate such a feeling and such views aright, the demands insisted upon, and the very dogmatic opinions asserted, must be examined. At no time so much as in our own, have such general principles and notions been advanced, or with greater assurance. If in days gone by, history seems to present itself as a struggle of passions; in our time – though displays of passion are not wanting – it exhibits partly a predominance of the struggle of notions assuming the authority of principles; partly that of passions and interests essentially subjective, but under the mask of such higher sanctions. The pretensions thus contended for as legitimate in the name of that which has been stated as the ultimate aim of Reason, pass accordingly, for absolute aims – to the same extent as Religion, Morals, Ethics. Nothing, as before remarked, is now more common than the complaint that the ideals which imagination sets up are not realized – that these glorious dreams are destroyed by cold actuality. These Ideals – which in the voyage of life founder on the rocks of hard reality – may be in the first instance only subjective, and belong to the idiosyncrasy of the individual, imagining himself the highest and wisest. Such do not properly belong to this category. For the fancies which the individual in his isolation indulges, cannot be the model for universal reality; just as universal law is not designed for the units of the mass. These as such may, in fact, find their interests decidedly thrust into the background. But by the term “Ideal,” we also understand the ideal of Reason, of the Good, of the True. Poets, as e.g., Schiller, have painted such ideals touchingly and with strong emotion, and with the deeply melancholy conviction that they could not be realized. In affirming, on the contrary, that the Universal Reason does realize itself, we have indeed nothing to do with the individual empirically regarded. That admits of degrees of better and worse, since here chance and speciality have received authority from the Idea to exercise their monstrous power. Much, therefore, in particular aspects of the grand phenomenon might be found fault with. This subjective faultfinding – which, however, only keeps in view the individual and its deficiency, without taking notice of Reason pervading the whole – is easy; and inasmuch as it asserts an excellent intention with regard to the good of the whole, and seems to result from a kindly heart, it feels authorized to give itself airs and assume great consequence. It is easier to discover a deficiency in individuals, in states, and in Providence, than to see their real import and value. For in this merely negative faultfinding a proud position is taken – one which overlooks the object, without having entered into it – without having comprehended its positive aspect. Age generally makes men more tolerant; youth is always discontented. The tolerance of age is the result of the ripeness of a judgment which, not merely as the result of indifference, is satisfied even with what is inferior; but, more deeply taught by the grave experience of life, has been led to perceive the substantial, solid worth of the object in question. The insight then to which – in contradistinction from those ideals – philosophy is to lead us, is, that the real world is as it ought to be – that the truly good – the universal divine reason – is not a mere abstraction, but a vital principle capable of realizing itself. This Good, this Reason, in its most concrete form, is God. God governs the world; the actual working of his government – the carrying out of his plan – is the History of the World. This plan philosophy strives to comprehend; for only that which has been developed as the result of it, possesses bond fide reality. That which does not accord with it, is negative, worthless existence. Before the pure light of this divine Idea – which is no mere Ideal – the phantom of a world whose events are an incoherent concourse of fortuitous circumstances, utterly vanishes. Philosophy wishes to discover the substantial purport, the real side, of the divine idea, and to justify the so much despised Reality of things; for Reason is the comprehension of the Divine work. But as to what concerns the perversion, corruption, and ruin of religious, ethical, and moral purposes, and states of society generally, it must be affirmed that in their essence these are infinite and eternal; but that the forms they assume may be of a limited order, and consequently belong to the domain of mere nature, and be subject to the sway of chance. They are therefore perishable, and exposed to decay and corruption. Religion and morality – in the same way as inherently universal essences – have the peculiarity of being present in the individual soul, in the full extent of their Idea, and therefore truly and really; although, they may not manifest themselves in it in extenso, and are not applied to fully developed relations. The religion, the morality of a limited sphere of life – that of a shepherd or a peasant, e.g., – in its intensive concentration and limitation to a few perfectly simple relations of life – has infinite worth; the same worth as the religion and morality of extensive knowledge, and of an existence rich in the compass of its relations and actions. This inner focus – this simple region of the claims of subjective freedom – the home of volition, resolution, and action – the abstract sphere of conscience – that which comprises the responsibility and moral value of the individual, remains untouched; and is quite shut out from the noisy din of the World’s History – including not merely external and temporal changes, but also those entailed by the absolute necessity inseparable from the realization of the Idea of Freedom itself. But as a general truth this must be regarded as settled, that whatever in the world possesses claims as noble and glorious, has nevertheless a higher existence above it. The claim of the World-Spirit rises above all special claims. These observations may suffice in reference to the means which the World-Spirit uses for realizing its Idea. Stated simply and abstractly, this mediation involves the activity of personal existences in whom Reason is present as their absolute, substantial being; but a basis, in the first instance, still obscure and unknown to them. But the subject becomes more complicated and difficult when we regard individuals not merely in their aspect of activity, but more concretely, in conjunction with a particular manifestation of that activity in their religion and morality – forms of existence which are intimately connected with Reason, and share in its absolute claims. Here the relation of mere means to an end disappears, and the chief bearings of this seeming difficulty in reference to the absolute aim of Spirit have been briefly considered.
(3) The third point to be analyzed is, therefore – what is the object to be realized by these means; i.e. what is the form it assumes in the realm of reality. We have spoken of means; but in the carrying out of a subjective, limited aim, we have also to take into consideration the element of a material, either already present or which has to be procured. Thus the question would arise: What is the material in which the Ideal of Reason is wrought out? The primary answer would be – Personality itself – human desires – Subjectivity generally. In human knowledge and volition, as its material element, Reason attains positive existence. We have considered subjective volition where it has an object which is the truth and essence of a reality, viz., where it constitutes a great world-historical passion. As a subjective will, occupied with limited passions, it is dependent, and can gratify its desires only within the limits of this dependence. But the subjective will has also a substantial life – a reality – in which it moves in the region of essential being, and has the essential itself as the object of its existence. This essential being is the union of the subjective with the rational Will: it is the moral Whole, the State, which is that form of reality in which the individual has and enjoys his freedom; but on the condition of his recognizing, believing in, and willing that which is common to the Whole. And this must not be understood as if the subjective will of the social unit attained its gratification and enjoyment through that common Will; as if this were a means provided for its benefit; as if the individual, in his relations to other individuals, thus limited his freedom, in order that this universal limitation – the mutual constraint of all – might secure a small space of liberty for each. Rather, we affirm, are Law, Morality, Government, and they alone, the positive reality and completion of Freedom. Freedom of a low and limited order is mere caprice; which finds its exercise in the sphere of particular and limited desires.
Subjective volition – Passion – is that which sets men in activity, that which effects “practical” realization. The Idea is the inner spring of action; the State is the actually existing, realized moral life. For it is the Unity of the universal, essential Will, with that of the individual; and this is “Morality.” The Individual living in this unity has a moral life; possesses a value that consists in this substantiality alone. Sophocles in his Antigone, says, “The divine commands are not of yesterday, nor of today; no, they have an infinite existence, and no one could say whence they came.” The laws of morality are not accidental, but are the essentially Rational. It is the very object of the State that what is essential in the practical activity of men, and in their dispositions, should be duly recognized; that it should have a manifest existence, and maintain its position. It is the absolute interest of Reason that this moral Whole should exist; and herein lie the justification and merit of heroes who have founded states – however rude these may have been. In the history of the World, only those peoples can come under our notice which form a state. For it must be understood that this latter is the realization of Freedom, i.e., of the absolute final aim, and that it exists for its own sake. It must further be understood that all the worth which the human being possesses – all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State. For his spiritual reality consists in this, that his own essence – Reason – is objectively present to him, that it possesses objective immediate existence for him.
Thus only is he fully conscious; thus only is he a partaker of morality – of a just and moral social and political life. For Truth is the Unity of the universal and subjective Will; and the Universal is to be found in the State, in its laws, its universal and rational arrangements. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on Earth. We have in it, therefore, the object of History in a more definite shape than before; that in which Freedom obtains objectivity, and lives in the enjoyment of this objectivity. For Law is the objectivity of Spirit; volition in its true form. Only that will which obeys law, is free: for it obeys itself – it is independent and so free. When the State or our country constitutes a community of existence; when the subjective will of man submits to laws – the contradiction between Liberty and Necessity vanishes. The Rational has necessary existence, as being the reality and substance of things, and we are free in recognizing it as law, and following it as the substance of our own being. The objective and the subjective will are then reconciled, and present one identical homogeneous whole. For the morality (Sittlichkeif) of the State is not of that ethical (moralische) reflective kind, in which one’s own conviction bears sway; this latter is rather the peculiarity of the modern time, while the true antique morality is based on the principle of abiding by one’s duty [to the state at large]. An Athenian citizen did what was required of him, as it were from instinct: but if I reflect on the object of my activity, I must have the consciousness that my will has been called into exercise. But morality is Duty – substantial Right – a “second nature” as it has been justly called; for the first nature of man is his primary merely animal existence.
The development in extenso of the Idea of the State belongs to the Philosophy of Jurisprudence; but it must be observed that in the theories of our time various errors are current respecting it, which pass for established truths, and have become fixed prejudices. We will mention only a few of them, giving prominence to such as have a reference to the object of our history.
The error which first meets us is the direct contradictory of our principle that the state presents the realization of Freedom; the opinion, viz., that man is free by nature, but that in society, in the State – to which nevertheless he is irresistibly impelled – he must limit this natural freedom. That man is free by Nature is quite correct in one sense; viz., that he is so according to the Idea of Humanity; but we imply thereby that he is such only in virtue of his destiny – that he has an undeveloped power to become such; for the “Nature” of an object is exactly synonymous with its “Idea.” But the view in question imports more than this. When man is spoken of as “free by Nature,” the mode of his existence as well as his destiny is implied. His merely natural and primary condition is intended. In this sense a “state of Nature” is assumed in which mankind at large are in the possession of their natural rights with the unconstrained exercise and enjoyment of their freedom. This assumption is not indeed raised to the dignity of the historical fact; it would indeed be difficult, were the attempt seriously made, to point out any such condition as actually existing, or as having ever occurred. Examples of a savage state of life can be pointed out, but they are marked by brutal passions and deeds of violence; while, however rude and simple their conditions, they involve social arrangements which (to use the common phrase) restrain freedom. That assumption is one of those nebulous images which theory produces; an idea which it cannot avoid originating, but which it fathers upon real existence, without sufficient historical justification.
What we find such a state of Nature to be in actual experience, answers exactly to the Idea of a merely natural condition.
Freedom as the ideal of that which is original and natural, does not exist as original and natural. Rather must it be first sought out and won; and that by an incalculable medial discipline ‘ of the intellectual and moral powers. The state of Nature is, therefore, predominantly that of injustice and violence, of untamed natural impulses, of inhuman deeds and feelings. Limitation is certainly produced by Society and the State, but it is a limitation of the mere brute emotions and rude instincts; as also, in a more advanced stage of culture, of the premeditated self-will of caprice and passion. This kind of constraint is part of the instrumentality by which only, the consciousness of Freedom and the desire for its attainment, in its true – that is Rational and Ideal form – can be obtained. To the Ideal of Freedom, Law and Morality are indispensably requisite; and they are in and for themselves, universal existences, objects and aims; which are discovered only by the activity of thought, separating itself from the merely sensuous, and developing itself, in opposition thereto; and which must on the other hand, be introduced into and incorporated with the originally sensuous will, and that contrarily to its natural inclination. The perpetually recurring misapprehension of Freedom consists in regarding that term only in its formal, subjective sense, abstracted from its essential objects and aims; thus a constraint put upon impulse, desire, passion – pertaining to the particular individual as such – a limitation of caprice and self-will is regarded as a fettering of Freedom. We should on the contrary look upon such limitation as the indispensable proviso of emancipation. Society and the State are the very conditions in which Freedom is realized. We must notice a second view, contravening the principle of the development of moral relations into a legal form. The patriarchal condition is regarded – either in reference to the entire race of man, or to some branches of it – as exclusively that condition of things, in which the legal element is combined with a due recognition of the moral and emotional parts of our nature; and in which justice as united with these, truly and really influences the intercourse of the social units. The basis of the patriarchal condition is the family relation; which develops the primary form of conscious morality, succeeded by that of the State as its second phase. The patriarchal condition is one of transition, in which the family has already advanced to the position of a race or people; where the union, therefore, has already ceased to be simply a bond of love and confidence, and has become one of plighted service. We must first examine the ethical principle of the Family. The Family may be reckoned as virtually a single person; since its members have either mutually surrendered their individual personality, (and consequently their legal position towards each other, with the rest of their particular interests and desires) as in the case of the Parents; or have not yet attained such an independent personality – (the Children – who are primarily in that merely natural condition already mentioned). They live, therefore, in a unity of feeling, love, confidence, and faith in each other. And in a relation of natural love, the one individual has the consciousness of himself in the consciousness of the other; he lives out of self; and in this mutual self-renunciation each regains the life that had been virtually transferred to the other; gains, in fact, that other’s existence and his own, as involved with that other. The farther interests connected with the necessities and external concerns of life, as well as the development that has to take place within their circle, i.e., of the children, constitute a common object for the members of the Family. The Spirit of the Family – the Penates – form one substantial being, as much as the Spirit of a People in the State; and morality in both cases consists in a feeling, a consciousness, and a will, not limited to individual personality and interest, but embracing the common interests of the members generally. But this unity is in the case of the Family essentially one of feeling; not advancing beyond the limits of the merely natural. The piety of the Family relation should be respected in the highest degree by the State; by its means the State obtains as its members individuals who are already moral (for as mere persons they are not) and who in uniting to form a state bring with them that sound basis of a political edifice – the capacity of feeling one with a Whole. But the expansion of the Family to a patriarchal unity carries us beyond the ties of blood-relationship – the simply natural elements of that basis; and outside of these limits the members of the community must enter upon the position of independent personality. A review of the patriarchal condition, in extenso, would lead us to give special attention to the Theocratical Constitution. The head of the patriarchal clan is also its priest. If the Family in its general relations, is not yet separated from civic society and the state, the separation of religion from it has also not yet taken place; and so much the less since the piety of the hearth is itself a profoundly subjective state of feeling.
We have considered two aspects of Freedom, – the objective and the subjective; if, therefore, Freedom is asserted to consist in the individuals of a State all agreeing in its arrangements, it is evident that only the subjective aspect is regarded. The natural inference from this principle is, that no law can be valid without the approval of all. This difficulty is attempted to be obviated by the decision that the minority must yield to the majority; the majority therefore bear the sway. But long ago J. J. Rousseau remarked that in that case there would be no longer freedom, for the will of the minority would cease to be respected. At the Polish Diet each single member had to give his consent before any political step could be taken; and this kind of freedom it was that ruined the State. Besides, it is a dangerous and false prejudice, that the People alone have reason and insight, and know what justice is; for each popular faction may represent itself as the People, and the question as to what constitutes the State is one of advanced science, and not of popular decision. If the principle of regard for the individual will is recognized as the only basis of political liberty, viz., that nothing should be done by or for the State to which all the members of the body politic have not given their sanction, we have, properly speaking, no Constitution. The only arrangement that would be necessary, would be, first, a centre having no will of its own, but which should take into consideration what appeared to be the necessities of the State; and, secondly, a contrivance for calling the members of the State together, for taking the votes, and for performing the arithmetical operations of reckoning and comparing the number of votes for the different propositions, and thereby deciding upon them. The State is an abstraction, having even its generic existence in its citizens; but it is an actuality, and its simply generic existence must embody itself in individual will and activity. The want of government and political administration in general is felt; this necessitates the selection and separation from the rest of those who have to take the helm in political affairs, to decide concerning them, and to give orders to other citizens, with a view to the execution of their plans. If e.g., even the people in a Democracy resolve on a war, a general must head the army. It is only by a Constitution that the abstraction – the State – attains life and reality; but this involves the distinction between those who command and those who obey. – Yet obedience seems inconsistent with liberty, and those who command appear to do the very opposite of that which the fundamental idea of the State, viz. that of Freedom, requires. It is, however, urged that – though the distinction between commanding and obeying is absolutely necessary, because affairs could not go on without it – and indeed this seems only a compulsory limitation, external to and even contravening freedom in the abstract – the constitution should be at least so framed, that the citizens may obey as little as possible, and the smallest modicum of free volition be left to the commands of the superiors; – that the substance of that for which subordination is necessary, even in its most important bearings, should be decided and resolved on by the People – by the will of many or of all the citizens; though it is supposed to be thereby provided that the State should be possessed of vigor and strength as a reality – an individual unity. – The primary consideration is, then, the distinction between the governing and the governed, and the political constitutions in the abstract have been rightly divided into Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy; which gives occasion, however, to the remark that Monarchy itself must be further divided into Despotism and Monarchy proper; that in all the divisions to which the leading Idea gives rise, only the generic character is to be made prominent – it being not intended thereby that the particular category under review should be exhausted as a Form, Order, or Kind in its concrete development. But especially it must be observed, that the abovementioned divisions admit of a multitude of particular modifications – not only such as lie within the limits of those classes themselves – but also such as are mixtures of several of these essentially distinct classes, and which are consequently misshapen, unstable, and inconsistent forms. In such a collision, the concerning question is, what is the best constitution; that is, by what arrangement, organization, or mechanism of the power of the State its object can be most surely attained. This object may indeed be variously understood; for instance, as the calm enjoyment of life on the part of the citizens, or as Universal Happiness. Such aims have suggested the so-called Ideals of Constitutions, and – as a particular branch of the subject – Ideals of the Education of Princes (Fenelon), or of the governing body – the aristocracy at large (Plato); for the chief point they treat of is the condition of those subjects who stand at the head of affairs: and in these Ideals the concrete details of political organization are not at all considered. The inquiry into the best constitution is frequently treated as if not only the theory were an affair of subjective independent conviction, but as if the introduction of a constitution recognized as the best – or as superior to others – could be the result of a resolve adopted in this theoretical manner; as if the form of a constitution were a matter of free choice, determined by nothing else but reflection. Of this artless fashion was that deliberation – not indeed of the Persian people, but of the Persian grandees, who had conspired to overthrow the pseudo-Smerdis and the Magi, after their undertaking had succeeded, and when there was no scion of the royal family living – as to what constitution they should introduce into Persia; and Herodotus gives an equally naive account of this deliberation.
In the present day, the Constitution of a country and people is not represented as so entirely dependent on free and deliberate choice. The fundamental but abstractly (and therefore imperfectly) entertained conception of Freedom, has resulted in the Republic being very generally regarded – in theory – as the only just and true political constitution. Many even, who occupy elevated official positions under monarchical constitutions – so far from being opposed to this idea – are actually its supporters; only they see that such a constitution, though the best, cannot be realized under all circumstances; and that – while men are what they are – we must be satisfied with less if freedom; the monarchical constitution – under the given circumstances, and the present moral condition of the people – being even regarded as the most advantageous. In this view also, the necessity of a particular constitution is made to depend on the condition of the people in such a way as if the latter were non-essential and accidental. This representation is founded on the distinction which the reflective understanding makes between an idea and the corresponding reality; holding to an abstract and consequently untrue idea; not grasping it in its completeness, or – which is virtually, though not in point of form, the same – not taking a concrete view of a people and a state. We shall have to show further on that the constitution adopted by a people makes one substance – one spirit: – with its religion, its art and philosophy, or, at least, with its conceptions and thoughts – its culture generally; not to expatiate upon the additional influences, ab extra, of climate, of neighbors, of its place in the World. A State is an individual totality, of which you cannot select any particular side, although a supremely important one, such as its political constitution; and deliberate and decide respecting it in that isolated form. Not only is that constitution most intimately connected with and dependent on those other spiritual forces; but the form of the entire moral and intellectual individuality – comprising all the forces it embodies – is only a step in the development of the grand Whole – with its place pre-appointed in the process; a fact which gives the highest sanction to the constitution in question, and establishes its absolute necessity. – The origin of a state involves imperious lordship on the one hand, instinctive submission on the other. But even obedience – lordly power, and the fear inspired by a ruler – in itself implies some degree of voluntary connection. Even in barbarous states this is the case; it is not the isolated will of individuals that prevails; individual pretensions are relinquished, and the general will is the essential bond of political union. This unity of the general and the particular is the Idea itself, manifesting itself as a state, and which subsequently undergoes further development within itself. The abstract yet necessitated process in the development of truly independent states is as follows: – They begin with regal power, whether of patriarchal or military origin. In the next phase, particularity and individuality assert themselves in the form of Aristocracy and Democracy. Lastly, we have the subjection of these separate interests to a single power; but which can be absolutely none other than one outside of which those spheres have an independent position, viz., the Monarchical. Two phases of royalty, therefore, must be distinguished – a primary and a secondary one. This process is necessitated, so that the form of government assigned to a particular stage of development must present itself: it is therefore no matter of choice, but is that form which is adapted to the spirit of the people.
In a Constitution the main feature of interest is the self-development of the rational, that is, the political condition of a people; the setting free of the successive elements of the Idea: so that the several powers in the State manifest themselves as separate – attain their appropriate and special perfection – and yet in this independent condition, work together for one object, and are held together by it – i.e., form an organic whole. The State is thus the embodiment of rational freedom, realizing and recognizing itself in an objective form. For its objectivity consists in this – that its successive stages are not merely ideal, but are present in an appropriate reality; and that in their separate and several working, they are absolutely merged in that agency by which the totality – the soul – the individuate unity – is produced, and of which it is the result.
The State is the Idea of Spirit in the external manifestation of human Will and its Freedom. It is to the State, therefore, that change in the aspect of History indissolubly attaches itself; and the successive phases of the Idea manifest themselves in it as distinct political principles. The Constitutions under which World-Historical peoples have reached their culmination, are peculiar to them; and therefore do not present a generally applicable political basis. Were it otherwise, the differences of similar constitutions would consist only in a peculiar method of expanding and developing that generic basis; whereas they really originate in diversity of principle. From the comparison therefore of the political institutions of the ancient World-Historical peoples, it so happens, that for the most recent principle of a Constitution – for the principle of our own times – nothing (so to speak) can be learned. In science and art it is quite otherwise; e.g., the ancient philosophy is so decidedly the basis of the modern, that it is inevitably contained in the latter, and constitutes its basis. In this case the relation is that of a continuous development of the same structure, whose foundation-stone, walls, and roof have remained what they were. In Art, the Greek itself, in its original form, furnishes us the best models. But in regard to political constitution, it is quite otherwise : here the Ancient and the Modern have not their essential principle in common. Abstract definitions and dogmas respecting just government – importing that intelligence and virtue ought to bear sway – are, indeed, common to both. But nothing is so absurd as to look to Greeks, Romans, or Orientals, for models for the political arrangements of our time. From the East may be derived beautiful pictures of a patriarchal condition, of paternal government, and of devotion to it on the part of peoples; from Greeks and Romans, descriptions of popular liberty. Among the latter we find the idea of a Free Constitution admitting all the citizens to a share in deliberations and resolves respecting the affairs and laws of the Commonwealth. In our times, too, this is its general acceptation; only with this modification, that – since our states are so large, and there are so many of “the Many,” the latter – direct action being impossible – should by the indirect method of elective substitution express their concurrence with resolves affecting the common weal; that is, that for legislative purposes generally, the people should be represented by deputies. The so-called Representative Constitution is that form of government with which we connect the idea of a free constitution; and this notion has become a rooted prejudice. On this theory People and Government are separated. But there is a perversity in this antithesis; an ill-intentioned ruse designed to insinuate that the People are the totality of the State. Besides, the basis of this view is the principle of isolated individuality – the absolute validity of the subjective will – a dogma which we have already investigated. The great point is, that Freedom in its Ideal conception has not subjective will and caprice for its principle, but the recognition of the universal will; and that the process by which Freedom is realized is the free development of its successive stages. The subjective will is a merely formal determination – a carte blanche – not including what it is that is willed. Only the rational will is that universal principle which independently determines and unfolds its own being, and develops its successive elemental phases as organic members. Of this Gothic-cathedral architecture the ancients knew nothing. At an earlier stage of the discussion we established the two elemental considerations: first, the idea of freedom as the absolute and final aim; secondly, the means for realizing it, i.e., the subjective side of knowledge and will, with its life, movement, and activity. We then recognized the State as the moral Whole and the Reality of Freedom, and consequently as the objective unity of these two elements. For although we make this distinction into two aspects for our consideration, it must be remarked that they are intimately connected; and that their connection is involved in the idea of each when examined separately. We have, on the one hand, recognized the Idea in the definite form of Freedom conscious of and willing itself – having itself alone as its object: involving at the same time, the pure and simple Idea of Reason, and likewise, that which we have called subject – self-consciousness – Spirit actually existing in the World. If, on the other hand, we consider Subjectivity, we find that subjective knowledge and will is Thought. But by the very act of thoughtful cognition and volition, I will the universal object – the substance of absolute Reason. We observe, therefore, an essential union between the objective side – the Idea – and the subjective side – the personality that conceives and wills it. – The objective existence of this union is the State, which is therefore the basis and centre of the other concrete elements of the life of a people – of Art, of Law, of Morals, of Religion, of Science. All the activity of Spirit has only this object – the becoming conscious of this union, i.e., of its own Freedom. Among the forms of this conscious union Religion occupies the highest position. In it, Spirit – rising above the limitations of temporal and secular existence – becomes conscious of the Absolute Spirit, and in this consciousness of the self-existent Being, renounces its individual interest; it lays this aside in Devotion – a state of mind in which it refuses to occupy itself any longer with the limited and particular. By Sacrifice man expresses his renunciation of his property, his will, his individual feelings. The religious concentration of the soul appears in the form of feeling; it nevertheless passes also into reflection; a form of worship (cultus) is a result of reflection. The second form of the union of the objective and subjective in the human spirit is Art. This advances farther into the realm of the actual and sensuous than Religion. In its noblest walk it is occupied with representing, not indeed, the Spirit of God, but certainly the Form of God; and in its secondary aims, that which is divine and spiritual generally. Its office is to render visible the Divine; presenting it to the imaginative and intuitive faculty. But the True is the object not only of conception and feeling, as in Religion – and of intuition, as in Art – but also of the thinking faculty; and this gives us the third form of the union in question – Philosophy. This is consequently the highest, freest, and wisest phase. Of course we are not intending to investigate these three phases here; they have only suggested themselves in virtue of their occupying the same general ground as the object here considered – the State.
The general principle which manifests itself and becomes an object of consciousness in the State – the form under which all that the State includes is brought – is the whole of that cycle of phenomena which constitutes the culture of a nation. But the definite substance that receives the form of universality, and exists in that concrete reality which is the State – is the Spirit of the People itself. The actual State is animated by this spirit, in all its particular affairs – its Wars, Institutions, etc. But man must also attain a conscious realization of this his Spirit and essential nature, and of his original identity with it. For we said that morality is the identity of the subjective or personal with the universal will. Now the mind must give itself an express consciousness of this; and the focus of this knowledge is Religion. Art and Science are only various aspects and forms of the same substantial being. – In considering Religion, the chief point of inquiry is, whether it recognizes the True – the Idea – only in its separate, abstract form, or in its true unity; in separation – God being represented in an abstract form as the Highest Being, Lord of Heaven and Earth, living in a remote region far from human actualities – or in its unity – God, as Unity of the Universal and Individual; the Individual itself assuming the aspect of positive and real existence in the idea of the Incarnation. Religion is the sphere in which a nation gives itself the definition of that which it regards as the True. A definition contains everything that belongs to the essence of an object; reducing its nature to its simple characteristic predicate, as a mirror for every predicate – the generic soul pervading all its details. The conception of God, therefore, constitutes the general basis of a people’s character.
In this aspect, religion stands in the closest connection with the political principle. Freedom can exist only where Individuality is recognized as having its positive and real existence in the Divine Being. The connection may be further explained thus: – Secular existence, as merely temporal – occupied with particular interests – is consequently only relative and unauthorized; and receives its validity only in as far as the universal soul that pervades it – its principle – receives absolute validity; which it cannot have unless it is recognized as the definite manifestation, the phenomenal existence of the Divine Essence. On this account it is that the State rests on Religion. We hear this often repeated in our times, though for the most part nothing further is meant than that individual subjects as God-fearing men would be more disposed and ready to perform their duty; since obedience to King and Law so naturally follows in the train of reverence for God. This reverence, indeed, since it exalts the general over the special, may even turn upon the latter – become fanatical – and work with incendiary and destructive violence against the State, its institutions, and arrangements. Religious feeling, therefore, it is thought, should be sober – kept in a certain degree of coolness – that it may not storm against and bear down that which should be defended and preserved by it. The possibility of such a catastrophe is at least latent in it.
While, however, the correct sentiment is adopted, that the State is based on Religion, the position thus assigned to Religion supposes the State already to exist; and that subsequently, in order to maintain it, Religion must be brought into it – in buckets and bushels as it were – and impressed upon people’s hearts. It is quite true that men must be trained to religion, but not as to something whose existence has yet to begin. For in affirming that the State is based on Religion – that it has its roots in it – we virtually assert that the former has proceeded from the latter; and that this derivation is going on now and will always continue; i.e., the principles of the State must be regarded as valid in and for themselves, which can only be in so far as they are recognized as determinate manifestations of the Divine Nature. The form of Religion, therefore, decides that of the State and its constitution. The latter actually originated in the particular religion adopted by the nation; so that, in fact, the Athenian or the Roman State was possible only in connection with the specific form of Heathenism existing among the respective peoples; just as a Catholic State has a spirit and constitution different from that of a Protestant one.
If that outcry – that urging and striving for the implantation of Religion in the community – were an utterance of anguish and a call for help, as it often seems to be, expressing the danger of religion having vanished, or being about to vanish entirely from the State – that would be fearful indeed – worse, in fact, than this outcry supposes; for it implies the belief in a resource against the evil, viz., the implantation and inculcation of religion; whereas religion is by no means a thing to be so produced; its self-production (and there can be no other) lies much deeper. Another and opposite folly which we meet with in our time, is that of pretending to invent and carry out political constitutions independently of religion. The Catholic confession, although sharing the Christian name with the Protestant, does not concede to the State an inherent Justice and Morality – a concession which in the Protestant principle is fundamental. This tearing away of the political morality of the Constitution from its natural connection, is necessary to the genius of that religion, inasmuch as it does not recognize Justice and Morality as independent and substantial. But thus excluded from intrinsic worth – torn away from their last refuge – the sanctuary of conscience – the calm retreat where religion has its abode – the principles and institutions of political legislation are destitute of a real centre, to the same degree as they are compelled to remain abstract and indefinite.
Summing up what has been said of the State, we find that we have been led to call its vital principle, as actuating the individuals who compose it – Morality. The State, its laws, its arrangements, constitute the rights of its members; its natural features, its mountains, air, and waters, are their country, their fatherland, their outward material property; the history of this State, their deeds; what their ancestors have produced belongs to them and lives in their memory. All is their possession, just as they are possessed by it; for it constitutes their existence, their being. Their imagination is occupied with the ideas thus presented, while the adoption of these laws, and of a fatherland so conditioned is the expression of their will. It is this matured totality which thus constitutes one Being, the spirit of one People. To it the individual members belong; each unit is the Son of his Nation, and at the same time – in as far as the State to which he belongs is undergoing development – the Son of his Age. None remains behind it, still less advances beyond it. This spiritual Being (the Spirit of his Time) is his; he is a representative of it; it is that in which he originated, and in which he lives. Among the Athenians the word Athens had a double import; suggesting primarily a complex of political institutions, but no less, in the second place, that Goddess who represented the Spirit of the People and its unity.
This Spirit of a People is a determinate and particular Spirit, and is, as just stated, further modified by the degree of its historical development. This Spirit, then, constitutes the basis and substance of those other forms of a nation’s consciousness, which have been noticed. For Spirit in its self-consciousness must become an object of contemplation to itself, and objectivity involves, in the first instance, the rise of differences which make up a total of distinct spheres of objective spirit; in the same way as the Soul exists only as the complex of its faculties, which in their form of concentration in a simple unity produce that Soul. It is thus One Individuality which, presented in its essence as God, is honored and enjoyed in Religion; which is exhibited as an object of sensuous contemplation in Art; and is apprehended as an intellectual conception, in Philosophy. In virtue of the original identity of their essence, purport, and object, these various forms are inseparably united with the Spirit of the State. Only in connection with this particular religion, can this particular political constitution exist; just as in such or such a State, such or such a Philosophy or order of Art.
The remark next in order is, that each particular National genius is to be treated as only One Individual in the process of Universal History. For that history is the exhibition of the divine, absolute development of Spirit in its highest forms – that gradation by which it attains its truth and consciousness of itself. The forms which these grades of progress assume are the characteristic “National Spirits” of History; the peculiar tenor of their moral life, of their Government, their Art, Religion, and Science. To realize these grades is the boundless impulse of the World-Spirit – the goal of its irresistible urging; for this division into organic members, and the full development of each, is its Idea. – Universal History is exclusively occupied with showing how Spirit comes to a recognition and adoption of the Truth: the dawn of knowledge appears; it begins to discover salient principles, and at last it arrives at full consciousness. Having, therefore, learned the abstract characteristics of the nature of Spirit, the means which it uses to realize its Idea, and the shape assumed by it in its complete realization in phenomenal existence – namely, the State – nothing further remains for this introductory section to contemplate but III. The course of the World’s History. – The mutations which history presents have been long characterized in the general, as an advance to something better, more perfect. The changes that take place in Nature – how infinitely manifold soever they may be – exhibit only a perpetually self-repeating cycle; in Nature there happens “nothing new under the sun,” and the multiform play of its phenomena so far induces a feeling of ennui; only in those changes which take place in the region of Spirit does anything new arise. This peculiarity in the world of mind has indicated in the case of man an altogether different destiny from that of merely natural objects – in which we find always one and the same stable character, to which all change reverts; – namely, a real capacity for change, and that for the better – an impulse of perfectibility. This principle, which reduces change itself under a law, has met with an unfavorable reception from religions – such as the Catholic – and from States claiming as their just right a stereotyped, or at least a stable position. If the mutability of worldly things in general – political constitutions, for instance – is conceded, either Religion (as the Religion of Truth) is absolutely excepted, or the difficulty escaped by ascribing changes, revolutions, and abrogations of immaculate theories and institutions, to accidents or imprudence – but principally to the levity and evil passions of man. The principle of Perfectibility indeed is almost as indefinite a term as mutability in general; it is without scope or goal, and has no standard by which to estimate the changes in question: the improved, more perfect, state of things towards which it professedly tends is altogether undetermined.
The principle of Development involves also the existence of a latent germ of being – a capacity or potentiality striving to realize itself. This formal conception finds actual existence in Spirit; which has the History of the World for its theatre, its possession, and the sphere of its realization. It is not of such a nature as to be tossed to and fro amid the superficial play of accidents, but is rather the absolute arbiter of things; entirely unmoved by contingencies, which, indeed, it applies and manages for its own purposes. Development, however, is also a property of organized natural objects. Their existence presents itself, not as an exclusively dependent one, subjected to external changes, but as one which expands itself in virtue of an internal unchangeable principle; a simple essence – whose existence, i.e., as a germ, is primarily simple – but which subsequently develops a variety of parts, that become involved with other objects, and consequently live through a continuous process of changes; – a process nevertheless, that results in the very contrary of change, and is even transformed into a vis conservatrix of the organic principle, and the form embodying it. Thus the organized individuum produces itself; it expands itself actually to what it was always potentially. – So Spirit is only that which it attains by its own efforts; it makes itself actually what it always was potentially. – That development (of natural organisms) takes place in a direct, unopposed, unhindered manner. Between the Idea and its realization – the essential constitution of the original germ and the conformity to it of the existence derived from it – no disturbing influence can intrude. But in relation to Spirit it is quite otherwise. The realization of its Idea is mediated by consciousness and will; these very faculties are, in the first instance, sunk in their primary merely natural life; the first object and goal of their striving is the realization of their merely natural destiny – but which, since it is Spirit that animates it, is possessed of vast attractions and displays great power and (moral) richness. Thus Spirit is at war with itself; it has to overcome itself as its most formidable obstacle. That development which in the sphere of Nature is a peaceful growth is, in that of spirit, a severe, a mighty conflict with itself. What Spirit really strives for is the realization of its Ideal being; but in doing so, it hides that goal from its own vision, and is proud and well satisfied in this alienation from it.
Its expansion, therefore, does not present the harmless tranquillity of mere growth, as does that of organic life, but a stern reluctant working against itself. It exhibits, moreover, not the mere formal conception of development, but the attainment of a definite result. The goal of attainment we determined at the outset: it is Spirit in its Completeness, in its essential nature, i.e., Freedom. This is the fundamental object, and therefore also the leading principle of the development – that whereby it receives meaning and importance (as in the Roman history, Rome is the object – consequently that which directs our consideration of the facts related); as, conversely, the phenomena of the process have resulted from this principle alone, and only as referred to it, possess a sense of value. There are many considerable periods in History in which this development seems to have been intermitted; in which, we might rather say, the whole enormous gain of previous culture appears to have been entirely lost; after which, unhappily, a new commencement has been necessary, made in the hope of recovering – by the assistance of some remains saved from the wreck of a former civilization, and by dint of a renewed incalculable expenditure of strength and time – one of the regions which had been an ancient possession of that civilization. We behold also continued processes of growth; structures and systems of culture in particular spheres, rich in kind, and well developed in every direction. The merely formal and indeterminate view of development in general can neither assign to one form of expansion superiority over the other, nor render comprehensible the object of that decay of older periods of growth; but must regard such occurrences – or, to speak more particularly, the retrocessions they exhibit – as external contingencies; and can only judge of particular modes of development from indeterminate points of view; which – since the development, as such, is all in all – are relative and not absolute goals of attainment.
Universal History exhibits the gradation in the development of that principle whose substantial purport is the consciousness of Freedom. The analysis of the successive grades, in their abstract form, belongs to Logic; in their concrete aspect to the Philosophy of Spirit. Here it is sufficient to state that the first step in the process presents that immersion of Spirit in Nature which has been already referred to; the second shows it as advancing to the consciousness of its freedom. But this initial separation from Nature is imperfect and partial, since it is derived immediately from the merely natural state, is consequently related to it, and is still encumbered with it as an essentially connected element. The third step is the elevation of the soul from this still limited and special form of freedom to its pure universal form; that state in which the spiritual essence attains the consciousness and feeling of itself. These grades are the ground-principles of the general process; but how each of them on the other hand involves within itself a process of formation – constituting the links in a dialectic of transition – to particularize this must be reserved for the sequel.
Here we have only to indicate that Spirit begins with a germ of infinite possibility, but only possibility – containing its substantial existence in an undeveloped form, as the object and goal which it reaches only in its resultant – full reality. In actual existence Progress appears as an advancing from the imperfect to the more perfect; but the former must not be understood abstractly as only the imperfect, but as something which involves the very opposite of itself – the so-called perfect – as a germ or impulse. So – reflectively, at least – possibility points to something destined to become actual; the Aristotelian dunamis is also potentia, power and might. Thus the Imperfect, as involving its opposite, is a contradiction, which certainly exists, but which is continually annulled and solved; the instinctive movement – the inherent impulse in the life of the soul – to break through the rind of mere nature, sensuousness, and that which is alien to it, and to attain to the light of consciousness, i.e., to itself. We have already made the remark how the commencement’ of the history of Spirit must be conceived so as to be in harmony with its Idea – in its bearing on the representations that have been made of a primitive “natural condition,” in which freedom and justice are supposed to exist, or to have existed. This was, however, nothing more than an assumption of historical existence, conceived in the twilight of theorizing reflection. A pretension of quite another order – not a mere inference of reasoning, but making the claim of historical fact, and that supernaturally confirmed – is put forth in connection with a different view that is now widely promulgated by a certain class of speculatists. This view takes up the idea of the primitive paradisiacal conditon of man, which had been previously expanded by the Theologians, after their fashion – involving, e.g., the supposition that God spoke with Adam in Hebrew – but remodelled to suit other requirements. The high authority appealed to in the first instance is the biblical narrative. But this depicts the primitive condition, partly only in the few wellknown traits, but partly either as in man generically – human nature at large – or, so far as Adam is to be taken as an individual, and consequently one person – as existing and completed in this one, or only in one human pair. The biblical account by no means justifies us in imagining a people, and a historical condition of such people, existing in that primitive form; still less does it warrant us in attributing to them the possession of a perfectly developed knowledge of God and Nature. “Nature,” so the fiction runs, “like a clear mirror of God’s creation, had originally lain revealed and transparent to the unclouded eye of man.”[3] Divine Truth is imagined to have been equally manifest. It is even hinted, though left in some degree of obscurity, that in this primary condition men were in possession of an indefinitely extended and already expanded body of religious truths immediately revealed by God. This theory affirms that all religions had their historical commencement in this primitive knowledge, and that they polluted and obscured the original Truth by the monstrous creations of error and depravity; though in all the mythologies invented by Error, traces of that origin and of those primitive true dogmas are supposed to be present and cognizable. An important interest, therefore, accrues to the investigation of the history of ancient peoples, that, viz., of the endeavor to trace their annals up to the point where such fragments of the primary revelation are to be met with in greater purity than lower down.[4]
We owe to the interest which has occasioned these investigations, very much that is valuable; but this investigation bears direct testimony against itself, for it would seem to be awaiting the issue of an historical demonstration of that which is presupposed by it as historically established. That advanced condition of the knowledge of God, and of other scientific, e.g., astronomical, knowledge (such as has been falsely attributed to the Hindoos); and the assertion that such a condition occurred at the very beginning of History – or that the religions of various nations were traditionally derived from it, and have developed themselves in degeneracy and depravation (as is represented in the rudely-conceived so-called “Emanation System”); – all these are suppositions which neither have, nor – if we may contrast with their arbitrary subjective origin, the true conception of History – can attain historical confirmation. The only consistent and worthy method which philosophical investigation can adopt is to take up History where Rationality begins to manifest itself in the actual conduct of the World’s affairs (not where it is merely an undeveloped potentiality) – where a condition of things is present in which it realizes itself in consciousness, will and action. The inorganic existence of Spirit – that of abstract Freedom – unconscious torpidity in respect to good and evil (and consequently to laws), or, if we please to term it so, “blessed ignorance” – is itself not a subject of History. Natural, and at the same time religious morality, is the piety of the family. In this social relation, morality consists in the members behaving towards each other not as individuals – possessing an independent will; not as persons. The Family therefore, is excluded from that process of development in which History takes its rise. But when this self-involved spiritual Unity steps beyond this circle of feeling and natural love, and first attains the consciousness of personality, we have that dark, dull centre of indifference, in which neither Nature nor Spirit is open and transparent; and for which Nature and Spirit can become open and transparent only by means of a further process – a very lengthened culture of that Will at length become self-conscious. Consciousness alone is clearness; and is that alone for which God (or any other existence) can be revealed. In its true form – in absolute universality – nothing can be manifested except to consciousness made percipient of it. Freedom is nothing but the recognition and adoption of such universal substantial objects as Right and Law, and the production of a reality that is accordant with them – the State. Nations may have passed a long life before arriving at this their destination, and during this period, they may have attained considerable culture in some directions. This ante-historical period – consistently with what has been said – lies out of our plan; whether a real history followed it, or the peoples in question never attained a political constitution. – It is a great discovery in history – as of a new world – which has been made within rather more than the last twenty years, respecting the Sanscrit and the connection of the European languages with it. In particular, the connection of the German and Indian peoples has been demonstrated, with as much certainty as such subjects allow of. Even at the present time we know of peoples which scarcely form a society, much less a State, but that have been long known as existing; while with regard to others, which in their advanced condition excite our especial interest, tradition reaches beyond the record of the founding of the State, and they experienced many changes prior to that epoch. In the connection just referred to, between the languages of nations so widely separated, we have a result before us, which proves the diffusion of those nations from Asia as a centre, and the so dissimilar development of what had been originally related, as an incontestable fact; not as an inference deduced by that favorite method of combining, and reasoning from, circumstances grave and trivial, which has already enriched and will continue to enrich history with so many fictions given out as facts. But that apparently so extensive range of events lies beyond the pale of history; in fact preceded it.
In our language the term History[5] unites the objective with the subjective side, and denotes quite as much the historia rerum gestarum, as the res gestae themselves; on the other hand it comprehends not less what has happened, than the narration of what has happened. This union of the two meanings we must regard as of a higher order than mere outward accident; we must suppose historical narrations to have appeared contemporaneously with historical deeds and events. It is an internal vital principle common to both that produces them synchronously. Family memorials, patriarchal traditions, have an interest confined to the family and the clan. The uniform course of events which such a condition implies, is no subject of serious remembrance; though distinct transactions or turns of fortune, may rouse Mnemosyne to form conceptions of them – in the same way as love and the religious emotions provoke imagination to give shape to a previously formless impulse. But it is the State which first presents subject- matter that is not only adapted to the prose of History, but involves the production of such history in the very progress of its own being. Instead of merely subjective mandates on the part of government – sufficing for the needs of the moment – a community that is acquiring a stable existence, and exalting itself into a State, requires formal commands and laws – comprehensive and universally binding prescriptions; and thus produces a record as well as an interest concerned with intelligent, definite – and, in their results – lasting transactions and occurrences; on which Mnemosyne, for the behoof of the perennial object of the formation and constitution of the State, is impelled to confer perpetuity. Profound sentiments generally, such as that of love, as also religious intuition and its conceptions, are in themselves complete – constantly present and satisfying; but that outward existence of a political constitution which is enshrined in its rational laws and customs, is an imperfect Present; and cannot be thoroughly understood without a knowledge of the past. The periods – whether we suppose them to be centuries or millennia – that were passed by nations before history was written among them – and which may have been filled with revolutions, nomadic wanderings, and the strangest mutations – are on that very account destitute of objective history, because they present no subjective history, no annals. We need not suppose that the records of such periods have accidentally perished; rather, because they were not possible, do we find them wanting. Only in a State cognizant of Laws, can distinct transactions take place, accompanied by such a clear consciousness of them as supplies the ability and suggests the necessity of an enduring record. It strikes every one, in beginning to form an acquaintance with the treasures of Indian literature, that a land so rich in intellectual products, and those of the profoundest order of thought, has no History; and in this respect contrasts most strongly with China – an empire possessing one so remarkable, one going back to the most ancient times. India has not only ancient books relating to religion, and splendid poetical productions, but also ancient codes; the existence of which latter kind of literature has been mentioned as a condition necessary to the origination of History – and yet History itself is not found. But in that country the impulse of organization, in beginning to develop social distinctions, was immediately petrified in the merely natural classification according to castes; so that although the laws concern themselves with civil rights, they make even these dependent on natural distinctions; and are especially occupied with determining the relations (Wrongs rather than Rights) of those classes towards each other, i.e., the privileges of the higher over the lower. Consequently, the element of morality is banished from the pomp of Indian life and from its political institutions. Where that iron bondage of distinctions derived from nature prevails, the connection of society is nothing but wild arbitrariness – transient activity – or rather the play of violent emotion without any goal of advancement or development. Therefore no intelligent reminiscence, no object for Mnemosyne presents itself; and imagination – confused though profound – expatiates in a region, which, to be capable of History, must have had an aim within the domain of Reality, and, at the same time, of substantial Freedom.
Since such are the conditions indispensable to a history, it has happened that the growth of Families to Clans, of Clans to Peoples, and their local diffusion consequent upon this numerical increase – a series of facts which itself suggests so many instances of social complication, war, revolution, and ruin – a process which is so rich in interest, and so comprehensive in extent – has occurred without giving rise to History; moreover, that the extension and organic growth of the empire of articulate sounds has itself remained voiceless and dumb – a stealthy, unnoticed advance. It is a fact revealed by philological monuments, that languages, during a rude condition of the nations that have spoken them, have been very highly developed; that the human understanding occupied this theoretical region with great ingenuity and completeness. For Grammar, in its extended and consistent form, is the work of thought, which makes its categories distinctly visible therein. It is, moreover, a fact, that with advancing social and political civilization, this systematic completeness of intelligence suffers attrition, and language thereupon becomes poorer and ruder: a singular phenomenon – that the progress towards a more highly intellectual condition, while expanding and cultivating rationality, should disregard that intelligent amplitude and expressiveness – should find it an obstruction and contrive to do without it. Speech is the act of theoretic intelligence in a special sense; it is its external manifestation. Exercises of memory and imagination without language, are direct, [non- speculative] manifestations. But this act of theoretic intelligence itself, as also its subsequent development, and the more concrete class of facts connected with it – viz. the spreading of peoples over the earth, their separation from each other, their comminglings and wanderings – remain involved in the obscurity of a voiceless past. They are not acts of Will becoming self- conscious – of Freedom, mirroring itself in a phenomenal form, and creating for itself a proper reality. Not partaking of this element of substantial, veritable existence, those nations – notwithstanding the development of language among them – never advanced to the possession of a history. The rapid growth of language, and the progress and dispersion of Nations, assume importance and interest for concrete Reason, only when they have come in contact with States, or begin to form political constitutions themselves.
After these remarks, relating to the form of the commencement of the World’s History, and to that ante-historical period which must be excluded from it, we have to state the direction of its course: though here only formally. The further definition of the subject in the concrete comes under the head of arrangement. Universal history – as already demonstrated – shows the development of the consciousness of Freedom on the part of Spirit, and of the consequent realization of that Freedom. This development implies a gradation – a series of increasingly adequate expressions or manifestations of Freedom, which result from its Idea. The logical, and – as still more prominent – the dialectical nature of the Idea in general, viz. that it is self-determined – that it assumes successive forms which it successively transcends; and by this very process of transcending its earlier stages gains an affirmative, and, in fact, a richer and more concrete shape; – this necessity of its nature, and the necessary series of pure abstract forms which the Idea successively assumes – is exhibited in the department of Logic. Here we need adopt only one of its results, viz. that every step in the process, as differing from any other, has its determinate peculiar principle. In history this principle is idiosyncrasy of Spirit – peculiar National Genius. It is within the limitations of this idiosyncrasy that the spirit of the nation, concretely manifested, expresses every aspect of its consciousness and will – the whole cycle of its realization. Its religion, its polity, its ethics, its legislation, and even its science, art, and mechanical skill, all bear its stamp. These special peculiarities find their key in that common peculiarity – the particular principle that characterizes a people; as, on the other hand, in the facts which History presents in detail, that common characteristic principle may be detected. That such or such a specific quality constitutes the peculiar genius of a people, is the element of our inquiry which must be derived from experience, and historically proved. To accomplish this, presupposes not only a disciplined faculty of abstraction, but an intimate acquaintance with the Idea. The investigator must be familiar a priori (if we like to call it so), with the whole circle of conceptions to which the principles in question belong – just as Kepler (to name the most illustrious example in this mode of philosophizing) must have been familiar a priori with ellipses, with cubes and squares, and with ideas of their relations, before he could discover, from the empirical data, those immortal “Laws” of his, which are none other than forms of thought pertaining to those classes of conceptions. He who is unfamiliar with the science that embraces these abstract elementary conceptions, is as little capable – though he may have gazed on the firmament and the motions of the celestial bodies for a lifetime – of understanding those Laws, as of discovering them. From this want of acquaintance with the ideas that relate to the development of Freedom, proceed a part of those objections which are brought against the philosophical consideration of a science usually regarded as one of mere experience; the so- called a priori method, and the attempt to insinuate ideas into the empirical data of history, being the chief points in the indictment. Where this deficiency exists, such conceptions appear alien – not lying within the object of investigation. To minds whose training has been narrow and merely subjective – which have not an acquaintance and familiarity with ideas – they are something strange – not embraced in the notion and conception of the subject which their limited intellect forms. Hence the statement that Philosophy does not understand such sciences. It must, indeed, allow that it has not that kind of Understanding which is the prevailing one in the domain of those sciences, that it does not proceed according to the categories of such Understanding, but according to the categories of Reason – though at the same time recognizing that Understanding, and its true value and position. It must be observed that in this very process of scientific Understanding, it is of importance that the essential should be distinguished and brought into relief in contrast with the so-called non-essential. But in order to render this possible, we must know what is essential; and that is – in view of the History of the World in general – the Consciousness of Freedom, and the phases which this consciousness assumes in developing itself. The bearing of historical facts on this category, is their bearing on the truly Essential. Of the difficulties stated, and the opposition exhibited to comprehensive conceptions in science, part must be referred to the inability to grasp and understand Ideas. If in Natural History some monstrous hybrid growth is alleged as an objection to the recognition of clear and indubitable classes or species, a sufficient reply is furnished by a sentiment often vaguely urged – that “the exception confirms the rule”; i.e., that is the part of a well-defined rule, to show the conditions in which it applies, or the deficiency or hybridism of cases that are abnormal. Mere Nature is too weak to keep its genera and species pure, when conflicting with alien elementary influences. If, e.g., on considering the human organization in its concrete aspect, we assert that brain, heart, and so forth are essential to its organic life, some miserable abortion may be adduced, which has on the whole the human form, or parts of it – which has been conceived in a human body and has breathed after birth therefrom – in which nevertheless no brain and no heart is found. If such an instance is quoted against the general conception of a human being – the objector persisting in using the name, coupled with a superficial idea respecting it – it can be proved that a real, concrete human being is a truly different object; that such a being must have a brain in its head, and a heart in its breast.
A similar process of reasoning is adopted, in reference to the correct assertion that genius, talent, moral virtues, and sentiments, and piety, may be found in every zone, under all political constitutions and conditions; in confirmation of which examples are forthcoming in abundance. If, in this assertion, the accompanying distinctions are intended to be repudiated as unimportant or non-essential, reflection evidently limits itself to abstract categories; and ignores the specialities of the object in question, which certainly fall under no principle recognized by such categories. That intellectual position which adopts such merely formal points of view, presents a vast field for ingenious questions, erudite views, and striking comparisons; for profound seeming reflections and declamations, which may be rendered so much the more brilliant in proportion as the subject they refer to is indefinite, and are susceptible of new and varied forms in inverse proportion to the importance of the results that can be gained from them, and the certainty and rationality of their issues. Under such an aspect the well-known Indian Epopees may be compared with the Homeric; perhaps – since it is the vastness of the imagination by which poetical genius proves itself – preferred to them; as, on account of the similarity of single strokes of imagination in the attributes of the divinities, it has been contended that Greek mythological forms may be recognized in those of India. Similarly the Chinese philosophy, as adopting the One [Ton] as its basis, has been alleged to be the same as at a later period appeared as Eleatic philosophy and as the Spinozistic System; while in virtue of its expressing itself also in abstract numbers and lines, Pythagorean and Christian principles have been supposed to be detected in it. Instances of bravery and indomitable courage – traits of magnanimity, of self-denial, and self-sacrifice, which are found among the most savage and the most pusillanimous nations – are regarded as sufficient to support the view that in these nations as much of social virtue and morality may be found as in the most civilized Christian states, or even more. And on this ground a doubt has been suggested whether in the progress of history and of general culture mankind have become better; whether their morality has been increased – morality being regarded in a subjective aspect and view, as founded on what the agent holds to be right and wrong, good and evil; not on a principle which is considered to be in and for itself right and good, or a crime and evil, or on a particular religion believed to be the true one.
We may fairly decline on this occasion the task of tracing the formalism and error of such a view, and establishing the true principles of morality, or rather of social virtue in opposition to false morality. For the History of the World occupies a higher ground than that on which morality has properly its position; which is personal character – the conscience of individuals – their particular will and mode of action; these have a value, imputation, reward or punishment proper to themselves. What the absolute aim of Spirit requires and accomplishes – what Providence does – transcends the obligations, and the liability to imputation and the ascription of good or bad motives, which attach to individuality in virtue of its social relations. They who on moral grounds, and consequently with noble intention, have resisted that which the advance of the Spiritual Idea makes necessary, stand higher in moral worth than those whose crimes have been turned into the means – under the direction of a superior principle – of realizing the purposes of that principle. But in such revolutions both parties generally stand within the limits of the same circle of transient and corruptible existence. Consequently it is only a formal rectitude – deserted by the living Spirit and by God – which those who stand upon ancient right and order maintain. The deeds of great men, who are the Individuals of the World’s History, thus appear not only justified in view of that intrinsic result of which they were not conscious, but also from the point of view occupied by the secular moralist. But looked at from this point, moral claims that are irrelevant, must not be brought into collision with world- historical deeds and their accomplishment. The Litany of private virtues – modesty, humility, philanthropy and forbearance – must not be raised against them. The History of the World might, on principle, entirely ignore the circle within which morality and the so much talked of distinction between the moral and the politic lies – not only in abstaining from judgments, for the principles involved, and the necessary reference of the deeds in question to those principles, are a sufficient judgment of them – but in leaving Individuals quite out of view and unmentioned. What it has to record is the activity of the Spirit of Peoples, so that the individual forms which that spirit has assumed in the sphere of outward reality, might be left to the delineation of special histories. The same kind of formalism avails itself in its peculiar manner of the indefiniteness attaching to genius, poetry, and even philosophy; thinks equally that it finds these everywhere. We have here products of reflective thought; and it is familiarity with those general conceptions which single out and name real distinctions without fathoming the true depth of the matter – that we call Culture. It is something merely formal, inasmuch as it aims at nothing more than the analysis of the subject, whatever it be, into its constituent parts, and the comprehension of these in their logical definitions and forms. It is not the free universality of conception necessary for making an abstract principle the object of consciousness. Such a consciousness of Thought itself, and of its forms isolated from a particular object, is Philosophy. This has, indeed, the condition of its existence in culture; that condition being the taking up of the object of thought, and at the same time clothing it with the form of universality, in such a way that the material content and the form given by the intellect are held in an inseparable state; – inseparable to such a degree that the object in question – which, by the analysis of one conception into a multitude of conceptions, is enlarged to an incalculable treasure of thought – is regarded as a merely empirical datum in whose formation thought has had no share. But it is quite as much an act of Thought – of the Understanding in particular – to embrace in one simple conception object which of itself comprehends a concrete and large significance (as Earth, Man – Alexander or Caesar) and to designate it by one word – as to resolve such a conception – duly to isolate in idea the conceptions which it contains, and to give them particular names. And in reference to the view which gave occasion to what has just been said, thus much will be clear – that as reflection produces what we include under the general terms Genius, Talent, Art, Science – formal culture on every grade of intellectual development, not only can, but must grow, and attain a mature bloom, while the grade in question is developing itself to a State, and on this basis of civilization is advancing to intelligent reflection and to general forms of thought – as in laws, so in regard to all else. In the very association of men in a state, lies the necessity of formal culture – consequently of the rise of the sciences and of a cultivated poetry and art generally. The arts designated “plastic,” require besides, even in their technical aspect, the civilized association of men. The poetic art – which has less need of external requirements and means, and which has the element of immediate existence, the voice, as its material – steps forth with great boldness and with matured expression, even under the conditions presented by a people not yet united in a political combination; since, as remarked above, language attains on its own particular ground a high intellectual development, prior to the commencement of civilization.
Philosophy also must make its appearance where political life exists; since that in virtue of which any series of phenomena is reduced within the sphere of culture, as above stated, is the Form strictly proper to Thought; and thus for philosophy, which is nothing other than the consciousness of this form itself – the Thinking of Thinking – the material o£ which its edifice is to be constructed, is already prepared by general culture. If in the development of the State itself, periods are necessitated which impel the soul of nobler natures to seek refuge from the Present in ideal regions – in order to find in them that harmony with itself which it can no longer enjoy in the discordant real world, where the reflective intelligence attacks all that is holy and deep, which had been spontaneously inwrought into the religion, laws and manners of nations, and brings them down and attenuates them to abstract godless generalities – Thought will be compelled to become Thinking Reason, with the view of effecting in its own element the restoration of its principles from the ruin to which they had been brought.
We find then, it is true, among all world-historical peoples, poetry, plastic art, science, even philosophy; but not only is there a diversity in style and bearing generally, but still more remarkably in subject-matter; and this is a diversity of the most important kind, affecting the rationality of that subject-matter. It is useless for a pretentious aesthetic criticism to demand that our good pleasure should not be made the rule for the matter – the substantial part of their contents – and to maintain that it is the beautiful form as such, the grandeur of the fancy, and so forth, which fine art aims at, and which must be considered and enjoyed by a liberal taste and cultivated mind. A healthy intellect does not tolerate such abstractions, and cannot assimilate productions of the kind above referred to. Granted that the Indian Epopees might be placed on a level with the Homeric, on account of a number of those qualities of form – grandeur of invention and imaginative power, liveliness of images and emotions, and beauty of diction; yet the infinite difference of matter remains; consequently one of substantial importance and involving the interest of Reason, which is immediately concerned with the consciousness of the Idea of Freedom, and its expression in individuals. There is not only a classical form, but a classical order of subject-matter; and in a work of art form and subject-matter are so closely united that the former can only be classical to the extent to which the latter is so. With a fantastical, indeterminate material – and Rule is the essence of Reason – the form becomes measureless and formless, or mean and contracted. In the same way, in that comparison of the various systems of philosophy of which we have already spoken, the only point of importance is overlooked, namely, the character of that Unity which is found alike in the Chinese, the Eleatic, and the Spinozistic philosophy – the distinction between the recognition of that Unity as abstract and as concrete – concrete to the extent of being a unity in and by itself – a unity synonymous with Spirit. But that co-ordination proves that it recognizes only such an abstract unity; so that while it gives judgment respecting philosophy, it is ignorant of that very point which constitutes the interest of philosophy.
But there are also spheres which, amid all the variety that is presented in the substantial content of a particular form of culture, remain the same. The difference above-mentioned in art, science, philosophy, concerns the thinking Reason and Freedom, which is the self-consciousness of the former, and which has the same one root with Thought. As it is not the brute, but only the man that thinks, he only – and only because he is a thinking being – has Freedom. His consciousness imports this, that the individual comprehends itself as a person, that is, recognizes itself in its single existence as possessing universality – as capable of abstraction from, and of surrendering all speciality; and, therefore, as inherently infinite. Consequently those spheres of intelligence which lie beyond the limits of this consciousness are a common ground among those substantial distinctions. Even morality, which is so intimately connected with the consciousness of freedom, can be very pure while that consciousness is still wanting; as far, that is to say, as it expresses duties and rights only as objective commands; or even as far as it remains satisfied with the merely formal elevation of the soul – the surrender of the sensual, and of all sensual motives – in a purely negative, self-denying fashion. The Chinese morality – since Europeans have become acquainted with it and with the writings of Confucius – has obtained the greatest praise and proportionate attention from those who are familiar with the Christian morality. There is a similar acknowledgment of the sublimity with which the Indian religion and poetry, (a statement that must, however, be limited to the higher kind), but especially the Indian philosophy, expatiate upon and demand the removal and sacrifice of sensuality. Yet both these nations are, it must be confessed, entirely wanting in the essential consciousness of the Idea of Freedom. To the Chinese their moral laws are just like natural laws – external, positive commands – claims established by force – compulsory duties or rules of courtesy towards each other. Freedom, through which alone the essential determinations of Reason become moral sentiments, is wanting. Morality is a political affair, and its laws are administered by officers of government and legal tribunals. Their treatises upon it, (which are not law books, but are certainly addressed to the subjective will and individual disposition) read – as do the moral writings of the Stoics – like a string of commands stated as necessary for realizing the goal of happiness; so that it seems to be left free to men, on their part, to adopt such commands – to observe them or not; while the conception of an abstract subject, “a wise man” [Sapiens] forms the culminating point among the Chinese, as also among the Stoic moralists. Also in the Indian doctrine of the renunciation of the sensuality of desires and earthly interests, positive moral freedom is not the object and end, but the annihilation of consciousness – spiritual and even physical privation of life.
It is the concrete spirit of a people which we have distinctly to recognize, and since it is Spirit it can only be comprehended spiritually, that is, by thought. It is this alone which takes the lead in all the deeds and tendencies of that people, and which is occupied in realizing itself – in satisfying its ideal and becoming self-conscious – for its great business is self-production. But for spirit, the highest attainment is self-knowledge; an advance not only to the intuition, but to the thought – the clear conception of itself. This it must and is also destined to accomplish; but the accomplishment is at the same time its dissolution, and the rise of another spirit, another world-historical people, another epoch of Universal History. This transition and connection lead us to the connection of the whole – the idea of the World’s History as such – which we have now to consider more closely, and of which we have to give a representation.
History in general is therefore the development of Spirit in Time, as Nature is the development of the Idea in Space. If then we cast a glance over the World’s-History generally, we see a vast picture of changes and transactions; of infinitely manifold forms of peoples, states, individuals, in unresting succession. Everything that can enter into and interest the soul of man – all our sensibility to goodness, beauty, and greatness – is called into play. On every hand aims are adopted and pursued, which we recognize, whose accomplishment we desire – we hope and fear for them. In all these occurrences and changes we behold human action and suffering predominant; everywhere something akin to ourselves, and therefore everywhere something that excites our interest for or against. Sometimes it attracts us by beauty, freedom, and rich variety, sometimes by energy such as enables even vice to make itself interesting. Sometimes we see the more comprehensive mass of some general interest advancing with comparative slowness, and subsequently sacrificed to an infinite complication of trifling circumstances, and so dissipated into atoms. Then, again, with a vast expenditure of power a trivial result is produced; while from what appears unimportant a tremendous issue proceeds. On every hand there is the motliest throng of events drawing us within the circle of its interest, and when one combination vanishes another immediately appears in its place.
The general thought – the category which first presents itself in this restless mutation of individuals and peoples, existing for a time and then vanishing – is that of change at large. The sight of the ruins of some ancient sovereignty directly leads us to contemplate this thought of change in its negative aspect. What traveller among the ruins of Carthage, of Palmyra, Persepolis, or Rome, has not been stimulated to reflections on the transiency of kingdoms and men, and to sadness at the thought of a vigorous and rich life now departed – a sadness which does not expend itself on personal losses and the uncertainty of one’s own undertakings, but is a disinterested sorrow at the decay of a splendid and highly cultured national life! But the next consideration which allies itself with that of change, is, that change while it imports dissolution, involves at the same time the rise of a new life – that while death is the issue of life, life is also the issue of death. This is a grand conception; one which the Oriental thinkers attained, and which is perhaps the highest in their metaphysics. In the idea of Metempsychosis we find it evolved in its relation to individual existence; but a myth more generally known, is that of the Phoenix as a type of the Life of Nature; eternally preparing for itself its funeral pile, and consuming itself upon it; but so that from its ashes is produced the new, renovated, fresh life. But this image is only Asiatic; oriental not occidental. Spirit – consuming the envelope of its existence – does not merely pass into another envelope, nor rise rejuvenescent from the ashes of its previous form; it comes forth exalted, glorified, a purer spirit. It certainly makes war upon itself – consumes its own existence; but in this very destruction it works up that existence into a new form, and each successive phase becomes in its turn a material, working on which it exalts itself to a new grade.
If we consider Spirit in this aspect – regarding its changes not merely as rejuvenescent transitions, i.e., returns to the same form, but rather as manipulations of itself, by which it multiplies the material for future endeavors – we see it exerting itself in a variety of modes and directions; developing its powers and gratifying its desires in a variety which is inexhaustible; because every one of its creations, in which it has already found gratification, meets it anew as material, and is a new stimulus to plastic activity. The abstract conception of mere change gives place to the thought of Spirit manifesting, developing, and perfecting its powers in every direction which its manifold nature can follow. What powers it inherently possesses we learn from the variety of products and formations which it originates. In this pleasurable activity, it has to do only with itself. As involved with the conditions of mere nature – internal and external – it will indeed meet in these not only opposition and hindrance, but will often see its endeavors thereby fail; often sink under the complications in which it is entangled either by Nature or by itself. But in such case it perishes in fulfilling its own destiny and proper function, and even thus exhibits the spectacle of self-demonstration as spiritual activity.
The very essence of Spirit is activity; it realizes its potentiality – makes itself its own deed, its own work – and thus it becomes an object to itself; contemplates itself as an objective existence. Thus is it with the Spirit of a people: it is a Spirit having strictly defined characteristics, which erects itself into an objective world, that exists and persists in a particular religious form of worship, customs, constitution, and political laws – in the whole complex of its institutions – in the events and transactions that make up its history. That is its work – that is what this particular Nation is. Nations are what their deeds are. Every Englishman will say: We are the men who navigate the ocean, and have the commerce of the world; to whom the East Indies belong and their riches; who have a parliament, juries, etc. – The relation of the individual to that Spirit is that he appropriates to himself this substantial existence; that it becomes his character and capability, enabling him to have a definite place in the world – to be something. For he finds the being of the people to which he belongs an already established, firm world – objectively present to him – with which he has to incorporate himself. In this its work, therefore – its world – the Spirit of the people enjoys its existence and finds its satisfaction. – A Nation is moral – virtuous – vigorous – while it is engaged in realizing its grand objects, and defends its work against external violence during the process of giving to its purposes an objective existence. The contradiction between its potential, subjective being – its inner aim and life – and its actual being is removed; it has attained full reality, has itself objectively present to it. But this having been attained, the activity displayed by the Spirit of the people in question is no longer needed; it has its desire. The Nation can still accomplish much in war and peace at home and abroad; but the living substantial soul itself may be said to have ceased its activity. The essential, supreme interest has consequently vanished from its life, for interest is present only where there is opposition. The nation lives the same kind of life as the individual when passing from maturity to old age – in the enjoyment of itself – in the satisfaction of being exactly what it desired and was able to attain. Although its imagination might have transcended that limit, it nevertheless abandoned any such aspirations as objects of actual endeavor, if the real world was less than favorable to their attainment – and restricted its aim by the conditions thus imposed. This mere customary life (the watch wound up and going on of itself) is that which brings on natural death. Custom is activity without opposition, for which there remains only a formal duration; in which the fulness and zest that originally characterized the aim of life are out of the question – a merely external sensuous existence which has ceased to throw itself enthusiastically into its object. Thus perish individuals, thus perish peoples by a natural death; and though the latter may continue in being, it is an existence without intellect or vitality; having no need of its institutions, because the need for them is satisfied – a political nullity and tedium. In order that a truly universal interest may arise, the Spirit of a People must advance to the adoption of some new purpose; but whence can this new purpose originate? It would be a higher, more comprehensive conception of itself – a transcending of its principle – but this very act would involve a principle of a new order, a new National Spirit.
Such a new principle does in fact enter into the Spirit of a people that has arrived at full development and self-realization; it dies not a simply natural death – for it is not a mere single individual, but a spiritual, generic life; in its case natural death appears to imply destruction through its own agency. The reason of this difference from the single natural individual, is that the Spirit of a people exists as a genus, and consequently carries within it its own negation, in the very generality which characterizes it. A people can only die a violent death when it has become naturally dead in itself, as, e.g., the German Imperial Cities, the German Imperial Constitution.
It is not of the nature of the all-pervading Spirit to die this merely natural death; it does not simply sink into the senile life of mere custom, but – as being a National Spirit belonging to Universal History – attains to the consciousness of what its work is; it attains to a conception of itself. In fact it is world-historical only in so far as a universal principle has lain in its fundamental element – in its grand aim: only so far is the work which such a spirit produces, a moral, political organization. If it be mere desires that impel nations to activity, such deeds pass over without leaving a trace; or their traces are only ruin and destruction. Thus, it was first Chronos – Time – that ruled; the Golden Age, without moral products; and what was produced – the offspring of that Chronos – was devoured by it. It was Jupiter – from whose head Minerva sprang, and to whose circle of divinities belong Apollo and the Muses – that first put a constraint upon Time, and set a bound to its principle of decadence. He is the Political god, who produced a moral work – the State.
In the very element of an achievement the quality of generality, of thought, is contained; without thought it has no objectivity; that is its basis. The highest point in the development of a people is this – to have gained a conception of its life and condition – to have reduced its laws, its ideas of justice and morality to a science; for in this unity [of the objective and subjective] lies the most intimate unity that Spirit can attain to in and with itself. In its work it is employed in rendering itself an object of its own contemplation; but it cannot develop itself objectively in its essential nature, except in thinking itself.
At this point, then, Spirit is acquainted with its principles – the general character of its acts. But at the same time, in virtue of its very generality, this work of thought is different in point of form from the actual achievements of the national genius, and from the vital agency by which those achievements have been performed. We have then before us a real and an ideal existence of the Spirit of the Nation. If we wish to gain the general idea and conception of what the Greeks were, we find it in Sophocles and Aristophanes, in Thucydides and Plato. In these individuals the Greek spirit conceived and thought itself. This is the profounder kind of satisfaction which the Spirit of a people attains; but it is “ideal,” and distinct from its “real” activity. At such a time, therefore, we are sure to see a people finding satisfaction in the idea of virtue; putting talk about virtue partly side by side with actual virtue, but partly in the place of it. On the other hand pure, universal thought, since its nature is universality, is apt to bring the Special and Spontaneous – Belief, Trust, Customary Morality – to reflect upon itself, and its primitive simplicity; to show up the limitation with which it is fettered – partly suggesting reasons for renouncing duties, partly itself demanding reasons, and the connection of such requirements with Universal Thought; and not finding that connection, seeking to impeach the authority of duty generally, as destitute of a sound foundation.
At the same time the isolation of individuals from each other and from the Whole makes its appearance; their aggressive selfishness and vanity; their seeking personal advantage and consulting this at the expense of the State at large. That inward principle in transcending its outward manifestations is subjective also in form – viz., selfishness and corruption in the unbound passions and egotistic interests of men.
Zeus, therefore, who is represented as having put a limit to the devouring agency of Time, and stayed this transiency by having established something inherently and independently durable – Zeus and his race are themselves swallowed up, and that by the very power that produced them – the principle of thought, perception, reasoning, insight derived from rational grounds, and the requirement of such grounds.
Time is the negative element in the sensuous world. Thought is the same negativity, but it is the deepest, the infinite form of it, in which therefore all existence generally is dissolved; first finite existence – determinate, limited form: but existence generally, in its objective character, is limited; it appears therefore as a mere datum – something immediate – authority; – and is either intrinsically finite and limited, or presents itself as a limit for the thinking subject, and its infinite reflection on itself [unlimited abstraction].
But first we must observe how the life which proceeds from death, is itself, on the other hand, only individual life; so that, regarding the species as the real and substantial in this vicissitude, the perishing of the individual is a regress of the species into individuality. The perpetuation of the race is, therefore, none other than the monotonous repetition of the same kind of existence. Further, we must remark how perception – the comprehension of being by thought – is the source and birthplace of a new, and in fact higher form, in a principle which while it preserves, dignifies its material. For Thought is that Universal – that Species which is immortal, which preserves identity with itself. The particular form of Spirit not merely passes away in the world by natural causes in Time, but is annulled in the automatic self-mirroring activity of consciousness. Because this annulling is an activity of Thought, it is at the same time conservative and elevating in its operation. While then, on the one side, Spirit annuls the reality, the permanence of that which it is, it gains on the other side, the essence, the Thought, the Universal element of that which it only was [its transient conditions]. Its principle is no longer that immediate import and aim which it was previously, but the essence of that import and aim.
The result of this process is then that Spirit, in rendering itself objective and making this its being an object of thought, on the one hand destroys the determinate form of its being, on the other hand gains a comprehension of the universal element which it involves, and thereby gives a new form to its inherent principle. In virtue of this, the substantial character of the National Spirit has been altered – that is, its principle has risen into another, and in fact a higher principle.
It is of the highest importance in apprehending and comprehending History to have and to understand the thought involved in this transition. The individual traverses as a unity various grades of development, and remains the same individual; in like manner also does a people, till the Spirit which it embodies reaches the grade of universality. In this point lies the fundamental, the Ideal necessity of transition. This is the soul – the essential consideration – of the philosophical comprehension of History.
Spirit is essentially the result of its own activity: its activity is the transcending of immediate, simple, unreflected existence – the negation of that existence, and the returning into itself. We may compare it with the seed; for with this the plant begins, yet it is also the result of the plant’s entire life. But the weak side of life is exhibited in the fact that the commencement and the result are disjoined from each other. Thus also is it in the life of individuals and peoples. The life of a people ripens a certain fruit; its activity aims at the complete manifestation of the principle which it embodies. But this fruit does not fall back into the bosom of the people that produced and matured it; on the contrary, it becomes a poison-draught to it. That poison-draught it cannot let alone, for it has an insatiable thirst for it: the taste of the draught is its annihilation, though at the same time the rise of a new principle.
We have already discussed the final aim of this progression. The principles of the successive phases of Spirit that animate the Nations in a necessitated gradation, are themselves only steps in the development of the one universal Spirit, which through them elevates and completes itself to a self-comprehending totality. While we are thus concerned exclusively with the Idea of Spirit, and in the History of the World regard everything as only its manifestation, we have, in traversing the past – however extensive its periods – only to do with what is present; for philosophy, as occupying itself with the True, has to do with the eternally present. Nothing in the past is lost for it, for the Idea is ever present; Spirit is immortal; with it there is no past, no future, but an essential now. This necessarily implies that the present form of Spirit comprehends within it all earlier steps. These have indeed unfolded themselves in succession independently; but what Spirit is it has always been essentially; distinctions are only the development of this essential nature. The life of the ever present Spirit is a circle of progressive embodiments, which looked at in one aspect still exist beside each other, and only as looked at from another point of view appear as past. The grades which Spirit seems to have left behind it, it still possesses in the depths of its present.
Geographical Basis of History.
Contrasted with the universality of the moral Whole and with the unity of that individuality which is its active principle, the natural connection that helps to produce the Spirit of a People, appears an extrinsic element; but inasmuch as we must regard it as the ground on which that Spirit plays its part, it is an essential and necessary basis. We began with the assertion that, in the History of the World, the Idea of Spirit appears in its actual embodiment as a series of external forms, each one of which declares itself as an actually existing people. This existence falls under the category of Time as well as Space, in the way of natural existence; and the special principle, which every world-historical people embodies, has this principle at the same time as a natural characteristic. Spirit, clothing itself in this form of nature, suffers its particular phases to assume separate existence; for mutual exclusion is the mode of existence proper to mere nature. These natural distinctions must be first of all regarded as special possibilities, from which the Spirit of the people in question germinates, and among them is the Geographical Basis. It is not our concern to become acquainted with the land occupied by nations as an external locale, but with the natural type of the locality, as intimately connected with the type and character of the people which is the offspring of such a soil. This character is nothing more nor less than the mode and form in which nations make their appearance in History, and take place and position in it. Nature should not be rated too high nor too low: the mild Ionic sky certainly contributed much to the charm of the Homeric poems, yet this alone can produce no Homers. Nor in fact does it continue to produce them; under Turkish government no bards have arisen. We must first take notice of those natural conditions which have to be excluded once for all from the drama of the World’s History. In the Frigid and in the Torrid zone the locality of World-historical peoples cannot be found. For awakening consciousness takes its rise surrounded by natural influences alone, and every development of it is the reflection of Spirit back upon itself in opposition to the immediate, unreflected character of mere nature. Nature is therefore one element in this antithetic abstracting process; Nature is the first standpoint from which man can gain freedom within himself, and this liberation must not be rendered difficult by natural obstructions. Nature, as contrasted with Spirit, is a quantitative mass, whose power must not be so great as to make its single force omnipotent. In the extreme zones man cannot come to free movement; cold and heat are here too powerful to allow Spirit to build up a world for itself. Aristotle said long ago, “When pressing needs are satisfied, man turns to the general and more elevated.” But in the extreme zones such pressure may be said never to cease, never to be warded off; men are constantly impelled to direct attention to nature, to the glowing rays of the sun, and the icy frost. The true theatre of History is therefore the temperate zone; or, rather, its northern half, because the earth there presents itself in a continental form, and has a broad breast, as the Greeks say. In the south, on the contrary, it divides itself, and runs out into many points. The same peculiarity shows itself in natural products. The north has many kinds of animals and plants with common characteristics; in the south, where the land divides itself into points, natural forms also present individual features contrasted with each other.
The World is divided into Old and New; the name of New having originated in the fact that America and Australia have only lately become known to us. But these parts of the world are not only relatively new, but intrinsically so in respect of their entire physical and psychical constitution. Their geological antiquity we have nothing to do with. I will not deny the New World the honor of having emerged from the sea at the world’s formation contemporaneously with the old: yet the Archipelago between South America and Asia shows a physical immaturity. The greater part of the islands are so constituted, that they are, as it were, only a superficial deposit of earth over rocks, which shoot up from the fathomless deep, and bear the character of novel origination. New Holland shows a not less immature geographical character; for in penetrating from the settlements of the English farther into the country, we discover immense streams, which have not yet developed themselves to such a degree as to dig a channel for themselves, but lose themselves in marshes. Of America and its grade of civilization, especially in Mexico and Peru, we have information, but it imports nothing more than that this culture was an entirely national one, which must expire as soon as Spirit approached it. America has always shown itself physically and psychically powerless, and still shows itself so. For the aborigines, after the landing of the Europeans in America, gradually vanished at the breath of European activity. In the United States of North America all the citizens are of European descent, with whom the old inhabitants could not amalgamate, but were driven back. The aborigines have certainly adopted some arts and usages from the Europeans, among others that of brandy-drinking, which has operated with deadly effect. In the South the natives were treated with much greater violence, and employed in hard labors to which their strength was by no means competent. A mild and passionless disposition, want of spirit, and a crouching submissiveness towards a Creole, and still more towards a European, are the chief characteristics of the native Americans; and it will be long before the Europeans succeed in producing any independence of feeling in them. The inferiority of these individuals in all respects, even in regard to size, is very manifest; only the quite southern races in Patagonia are more vigorous natures, but still abiding in their natural condition of rudeness and barbarism. When the Jesuits and the Catholic clergy proposed to accustom the Indians to European culture and manners (they have, as is well known, founded a state in Paraguay and convents in Mexico and California), they commenced a close intimacy with them, and prescribed for them the duties of the day, which, slothful though their disposition was, they complied with under the authority of the Friars. These prescripts (at midnight a bell had to remind them even of their matrimonial duties), were first, and very wisely, directed to the creation of wants – the springs of human activity generally. The weakness of the American physique was a chief reason for bringing the negroes to America, to employ their labor in the work that had to be done in the New World; for the negroes are far more susceptible of European culture than the Indians, and an English traveller has adduced instances of negroes having become competent clergymen, medical men, etc. (a negro first discovered the use of the Peruvian bark), while only a single native was known to him whose intellect was sufficiently developed to enable him to study, but who had died soon after beginning, through excessive brandy-drinking. The weakness of the human physique of America has been aggravated by a deficiency in the mere tools and appliances of progress – the want of horses and iron, the chief instruments by which they were subdued.
The original nation having vanished or nearly so, the effective population comes for the most part from Europe; and what takes place in America, is but an emanation from Europe. Europe has sent its surplus population to America in much the same way as from the old Imperial Cities, where trade-guilds were dominant and trade was stereotyped, many persons escaped to other towns which were not under such a yoke, and where the burden of imposts was not so heavy. Thus arose, by the side of Hamburg, Altona – by Frankfort, Offenbach – by Nürnburg, Fürth – and Carouge by Geneva. The relation between North America and Europe is similar. Many Englishmen have settled there, where burdens and imposts do not exist, and where the combination of European appliances and European ingenuity has availed to realize some produce from the extensive and still virgin soil. Indeed the emigration in question offers many advantages. The emigrants have got rid of much that might be obstructive to their interests at home, while they take with them the advantages of European independence of spirit, and acquired skill; while for those who are willing to work vigorously, but who have not found in Europe opportunities for doing so, a sphere of action is certainly presented in America.
America, as is well known, is divided into two parts, connected indeed by an isthmus, but which has not been the means of establishing intercourse between them. Rather, these two divisions are most decidedly distinct from each other. North America shows us on approaching it, along its eastern shore a wide border of level coast, behind which is stretched a chain of mountains – the blue mountains or Appalachians; further north the Alleghanies. Streams issuing from them water the country towards the coast, which affords advantages of the most desirable kind to the United States, whose origin belongs to this region. Behind that mountain-chain the St. Lawrence river flows (in connection with huge lakes), from south to north, and on this river lie the northern colonies of Canada. Farther west we meet the basin of the vast Mississippi, and the basins of the Missouri and Ohio, which it receives, and then debouches into the Gulf of Mexico. On the western side of this region we have in like manner a long mountain chain, running through Mexico and the Isthmus of Panama, and under the names of the Andes or Cordillera, cutting off an edge of coast along the whole west side of South America. The border formed by this is narrower and offers fewer advantages than that of North America. There lie Peru and Chili. On the east side flow eastward the monstrous streams of the Orinoco and Amazons; they form great valleys, not adapted however for cultivation, since they are only wide desert steppes. Towards the south flows the Rio de la Plata, whose tributaries have their origin partly in the Cordilleras, partly in the northern chain of mountains which separates the basin of the Amazon from its own. To the district of the Rio de la Plata belong Brazil, and the Spanish Republics. Colombia is the northern coast-land of South America, at the west of which, flowing along the Andes, the Magdalena debouches into the Caribbean Sea.
With the exception of Brazil, republics have come to occupy South as well as North America. In comparing South America (reckoning Mexico as part of it) with North America, we observe an astonishing contrast.
In North America we witness a prosperous state of things; an increase of industry and population civil order and firm freedom; the whole federation constitutes but a single state, and has its political centres. In South America, on the contrary, the republics depend only on military force; their whole history is a continued revolution; federated states become disunited; others previously separated become united; and all these changes originate in military revolutions. The more special differences between the two parts of America show us two opposite directions, the one in political respects, the other in regard to religion. South America, where the Spaniards settled and asserted supremacy, is Catholic; North America, although a land of sects of every name, is yet fundamentally, Protestant. A wider distinction is presented in the fact, that South America was conquered, but North America colonized. The Spaniards took possession of South America to govern it, and to become rich through occupying political offices, and by exactions. Depending on a very distant mother country, their desires found a larger scope, and by force, address and confidence they gained a great predominance over the Indians. The North American States were, on the other hand, entirely colonised, by Europeans, Since in England Puritans, Episcopalians, and Catholics were engaged in perpetual conflict, and now one party, now the other, had the upper hand, many emigrated to seek religious freedom on a foreign shore. These were industrious Europeans, who betook themselves to agriculture, tobacco and cotton planting, etc. Soon the whole attention of the inhabitants was given to labor, and the basis of their existence as a united body lay in the necessities that bind man to man, the desire of repose, the establishment of civil rights, security and freedom, and a community arising from the aggregation of individuals as atomic constituents; so that the state was merely something external for the protection of property. From the Protestant religion sprang the principle of the mutual confidence of individuals – trust in the honorable dispositions of other men; for in the Protestant Church the entire life – its activity generally – is the field for what it deems religious works. Among Catholics, on the contrary, the basis of such a confidence cannot exist; for in secular matters only force and voluntary subservience are the principles of action; and the forms which are called Constitutions are in this case only a resort of necessity, and are no protection against mistrust. If we compare North America further with Europe, we shall find in the former the permanent example of a republican constitution. A subjective unity presents itself; for there is a President at the head of the State, who, for the sake of security against any monarchical ambition, is chosen only for four years. Universal protection for property, and a something approaching entire immunity from public burdens, are facts which are constantly held up to commendation. We have in these facts the fundamental character of the community – the endeavor of the individual after acquisition, commercial profit, and gain; the preponderance of private interest, devoting itself to that of the community only for its own advantage. We find, certainly, legal relations – a formal code of laws; but respect for law exists apart from genuine probity, and the American merchants commonly lie under the imputation of dishonest dealings under legal protection. If, on the one side, the Protestant Church develops the essential principle of confidence, as already stated, it thereby involves on the other hand the recognition of the validity of the element of feeling to such a degree as gives encouragement to unseemly varieties of caprice. Those who adopt this standpoint maintain, that, as everyone may have his peculiar way of viewing things generally, so he may have also a religion peculiar to himself. Thence the splitting up into so many sects, which reach the very acme of absurdity; many of which have a form of worship consisting in convulsive movements, and sometimes in the most sensuous extravagances. This complete freedom of worship is developed to such a degree, that the various congregations choose ministers and dismiss them according to their absolute pleasure; for the Church is no independent existence – having a substantial spiritual being, and correspondingly permanent external arrangement – but the affairs of religion are regulated by the good pleasure for the time being of the members of the community. In North America the most unbounded license of imagination in religious matters prevails, and that religious unity is wanting which has been maintained in European States, where deviations are limited to a few confessions. As to the political condition of North America, the general object of the existence of this State is not yet fixed and determined, and the necessity for a firm combination does not yet exist; for a real State and a real Government arise only after a distinction of classes has arisen, when wealth and poverty become extreme, and when such a condition of things presents itself that a large portion of the people can no longer satisfy its necessities in the way in which it has been accustomed so to do. But America is hitherto exempt from this pressure, for it has the outlet of colonization constantly and widely open, and multitudes are continually streaming into the plains of the Mississippi. By this means the chief source of discontent is removed, and the continuation of the existing civil condition is guaranteed. A comparison of the United States of North America with European lands is therefore impossible; for in Europe, such a natural outlet for population, notwithstanding all the emigrations that take place, does not exist. Had the woods of Germany been in existence, the French Revolution would not have occurred. North America will be comparable with Europe only after the immeasurable space which that country presents to its inhabitants shall have been occupied, and the members of the political body shall have begun to be pressed back on each other. North America is still in the condition of having land to begin to cultivate. Only when, as in Europe, the direct increase of agriculturists is checked, will the inhabitants, instead of pressing outwards to occupy the fields, press inwards upon each other – pursuing town occupations, and trading with their fellow-citizens; and so form a compact system of civil society, and require an organized state. The North American Federation have no neighboring State (towards which they occupy a relation similar to that of European States to each other), one which they regard with mistrust, and against which they must keep up a standing army. Canada and Mexico are not objects of fear, and England has had fifty years’ experience, that free America is more profitable to her than it was in a state of dependence. The militia of the North American Republic proved themselves quite as brave in the War of Independence as the Dutch under Philip II; but generally, where Independence is not at stake, less power is displayed, and in the year 1814 the militia held out but indifferently against the English.
America is therefore the land of the future, where, in the ages that lie before us, the burden of the World’s History shall reveal itself – perhaps in a contest between North and South America. It is a land of desire for all those who are weary of the historical lumber-room of old Europe. Napoleon is reported to have said: “Cette vieille Europe m’ennuie.” It is for America to abandon the ground on which hitherto the History of the World has developed itself. What has taken place in the New World up to the present time is only an echo of the Old World – the expression of a foreign Life; and as a Land of the Future, it has no interest for us here, for, as regards History, our concern must be with that which has been and that which is. In regard to Philosophy, on the other hand, we have to do with that which (strictly speaking) is neither past nor future, but with that which is, which has an eternal existence – with Reason; and this is quite sufficient to occupy us.
Dismissing, then, the New World, and the dreams to which it may give rise, we pass over to the Old World – the scene of the World’s History; and must first direct attention to the natural elements and conditions of existence which it presents. America is divided into two parts, which are indeed connected by an Isthmus, but which forms only an external, material bond of union. The Old World, on the contrary, which lies opposite to America, and is separated from it by the Atlantic Ocean, has its continuity interrupted by a deep inlet – the Mediterranean Sea. The three Continents that compose it have an essential relation to each other, and constitute a totality. Their peculiar feature is that they lie round this Sea, and therefore have an easy means of communication; for rivers and seas are not to be regarded as disjoining, but as uniting. England and Brittany, Norway and Denmark, Sweden and Livonia, have been united. For the three quarters of the globe the Mediterranean Sea is similarly the uniting element, and the centre of World-History. Greece lies here, the focus of light in History. Then in Syria we have Jerusalem, the centre of Judaism and of Christianity; southeast of it lie Mecca and Medina, the cradle of the Mussulman faith; towards the west Delphi and Athens; farther west still, Rome: on the Mediterranean Sea we have also Alexandria and Carthage. The Mediterranean is thus the heart of the Old World, for it is that which conditioned and vitalized it. Without it the History of the World could not be conceived: it would be like ancient Rome or Athens without the forum, where all the life of the city came together. The extensive tract of eastern Asia is severed from the process of general historical development, and has no share in it; so also Northern Europe, which took part in the World’s History only at a later date, and had no part in it while the Old World lasted; for this was exclusively limited to the countries lying round the Mediterranean Sea. Julius Caesar’s crossing the Alps – the conquest of Gaul and the relation into which the Germans thereby entered with the Roman Empire – makes consequently an epoch in History; for in virtue of this it begins to extend its boundaries beyond the Alps. Eastern Asia and that trans-Alpine country are the extremes of this agitated focus of human life around the Mediterranean – the beginning and end of History – its rise and decline.
The more special geographical distinctions must now be established, and they are to be regarded as essential, rational distinctions, in contrast with the variety of merely accidental circumstances. Of these characteristic differences there are three: –
(1) The arid elevated land with its extensive steppes and plains.
(2) The valley plains – the Land of Transition permeated and watered by great Streams.
(3) The coast region in immediate connection with the sea.
These three geographical elements are the essential ones, and we shall see each quarter of the globe triply divided accordingly. The first is the substantial, unvarying, metallic, elevated region, intractably shut up within itself, but perhaps adapted to send forth impulses over the rest of the world; the second forms centres of civilization, and is the yet undeveloped independence [of humanity]; the third offers the means of connecting the world together, and of maintaining the connection.
(1) The elevated land. – We see such a description of country in middle Asia inhabited by Mongolians (using the word in a general sense): from the Caspian Sea these Steppes stretch in a northerly direction towards the Black Sea. As similar tracts may be cited the deserts of Arabia and of Barbary in Africa; in South America the country round the Orinoco, and in Paraguay. The peculiarity of the inhabitants of this elevated region, which is watered sometimes only by rain, or by the overflowing of a river (as are the plains of the Orinoco) – is the patriarchal life, the division into single families. The region which these families occupy is unfruitful or productive
Only temporarily: the inhabitants have their property not in the land – from which they derive only a trifling profit – but in the animals that wander with them. For a long time these find pasture in the plains, and when they are depastured, the tribe moves to other parts of the country. They are careless and provide nothing for the winter, on which account therefore, half of the herd is frequently cut off. Among these inhabitants of the upland there exist no legal relations, and consequently there are exhibited among them the extremes of hospitality and rapine; the last more especially when they are surrounded by civilized nations, as the Arabians, who are assisted in their depredations by their horses and camels. The Mongolians feed on mares’ milk, and thus the horse supplies them at the same time with appliances for nourishment and for war. Although this is the form of their patriarchal life, it often happens that they cohere together in great masses, and by an impulse of one kind or another, are excited to external movement. Though previously of peaceful disposition, they then rush as a devastating inundation over civilized lands, and the revolution which ensues has no other result than destruction and desolation. Such an agitation was excited among those tribes under Genghis Khan and Tamerlane: they destroyed all before them; then vanished again, as does an overwhelming Forest-torrent – possessing no inherent principle of vitality. From the uplands they rush down into the dells: there dwell peaceful mountaineers – herdsmen who also occupy themselves with agriculture, as do the Swiss. Asia has also such a people: they are however on the whole a less important element.
(2) The valley plains. – These are plains, permeated by rivers, and which owe the whole of their fertility to the streams by which they are formed. Such a Valley-Plain is China – India, traversed by the Indus and the Ganges – Babylonia, where the Euphrates and the Tigris flow – Egypt, watered by the Nile. In these regions extensive Kingdoms arise, and the foundation of great States begins. For agriculture, which prevails here as the primary principle of subsistence for individuals, is assisted by the regularity of seasons, which require corresponding agricultural operations; property in land commences, and the consequent legal relations; – that is to say, the basis and foundation of the State, which becomes possible only in connection with such relations.
(3) The coast land. – A River divides districts of country from each other, but still more does the sea; and we are accustomed to regard water as the separating element. Especially in recent times has it been insisted upon that States must necessarily have been separated by natural features. Yet on the contrary, it may be asserted as a fundamental principle that nothing unites so much as water, for countries are nothing else than districts occupied by streams. Silesia, for instance, is the valley of the Oder; Bohemia and Saxony are the valley of the Elbe; Egypt is the valley of the Nile. With the sea this is not less the case, as has been already pointed out. Only Mountains separate. Thus the Pyrenees decidedly separate Spain from France. The Europeans have been in constant connection with America and the East Indies ever since they were discovered; but they have scarcely penetrated into the interior of Africa and Asia, because intercourse by land is much more difficult than by water. Only through the fact of being a sea, has the Mediterranean become a focus of national life. Let us now look at the character of the nations that are conditioned by this third element.
The sea gives us the idea of the indefinite, the unlimited, and infinite; and in feeling his own infinite in that Infinite, man is stimulated and emboldened to stretch beyond the limited: the sea invites man to conquest, and to piratical plunder, but also to honest gain and to commerce. The land, the mere Valley-plain attaches him to the soil; it involves him in an infinite multitude of dependencies, but the sea carries him out beyond these limited circles of thought and action. Those who navigate the sea, have indeed gain for their object, but the means are in this respect paradoxical, inasmuch as they hazard both property and life to attain it. The means therefore are the very opposite to that which they aim at. This is what exalts their gain and occupation above itself, and makes it something brave and noble. Courage is necessarily introduced into trade, daring is joined with wisdom. For the daring which encounters the sea must at the same time embrace wariness – cunning – since it has to do with the treacherous, the most unreliable and deceitful element. This boundless plain is absolutely yielding – withstanding no pressure, not even a breath of wind. It looks boundlessly innocent, submissive, friendly, and insinuating; and it is exactly this submissiveness which changes the sea into the most dangerous and violent element. To this deceitfulness and violence man opposes merely a simple piece of wood; confides entirely in his courage and presence of mind; and thus passes from a firm ground to an unstable support, taking his artificial ground with him. The Ship – that swan of the sea, which cuts the watery plain in agile and arching movements or describes circles upon it – is a machine whose invention does the greatest honor to the boldness of man as well as to his understanding. This stretching out of the sea beyond the limitations of the land, is wanting to the splendid political edifices of Asiatic States, although they themselves border on the sea – as for example, China. For them the sea is only the limit, the ceasing of the land; they have no positive relation to it. The activity to which the sea invites, is a quite peculiar one: thence arises the fact that the coast-lands almost always separate themselves from the states of the interior although they are connected with these by a river. Thus Holland has severed itself from Germany, Portugal from Spain.
In accordance with these data we may now consider the three portions of the globe with which History is concerned, and here the three characteristic principles manifest themselves in a more or less striking manner: Africa has for its leading classical feature the Upland, Asia the contrast of river regions with the Upland, Europe the mingling of these several elements. Africa must be divided into three parts: one is that which lies south of the desert of Sahara – Africa proper – the Upland almost entirely unknown to us, with narrow coast-tracts along the sea; the second is that to the north of the desert – European Africa (if we may so call it) – a coastland; the third is the river region of the Nile, the only valley-land of Africa, and which is in connection with Asia.
Africa proper, as far as History goes back, has remained – for all purposes of connection with the rest of the World – shut up; it is the Gold-land compressed within itself – the land of childhood, which lying beyond the day of self-conscious history, is enveloped in the dark mantle of Night. Its isolated character originates, not merely in its tropical nature, but essentially in its geographical condition. The triangle which it forms (if we take the West Coast – which in the Gulf of Guinea makes a strongly indented angle – for one side, and in the same way the East Coast to Cape Gardafu for another) is on two sides so constituted for the most part, as to have a very narrow Coast Tract, habitable only in a few isolated spots. Next to this towards the interior, follows to almost the same extent, a girdle of marsh land with the most luxuriant vegetation, the especial home of ravenous beasts, snakes of all kinds – a border tract whose atmosphere is poisonous to Europeans. This border constitutes the base of a cincture of high mountains, which are only at distant intervals traversed by streams, and where they are so, in such a way as to form no means of union with the interior; for the interruption occurs but seldom below the upper part of the mountain ranges, and only in individual narrow channels, where are frequently found innavigable waterfalls and torrents crossing each other in wild confusion. During the three or three and a half centuries that the Europeans have known this border-land and have taken places in it into their possession, they have only here and there (and that but for a short time) passed these mountains, and have nowhere settled down beyond them. The land surrounded by these mountains is an unknown Upland, from which on the other hand the Negroes have seldom made their way through. In the sixteenth century occurred at many very distant points, outbreaks of terrible hordes which rushed down upon the more peaceful inhabitants of the declivities. Whether any internal movement had taken place, or if so, of what character, we do not know. What we do know of these hordes, is the contrast between their conduct in their wars and forays themselves – which exhibited the most reckless inhumanity and disgusting barbarism – and the fact that afterwards, when their rage was spent, in the calm time of peace, they showed themselves mild and well disposed towards the Europeans, when they became acquainted with them. This holds good of the Fullahs and of the Mandingo tribes, who inhabit the mountain terraces of the Senegal and Gambia. The second portion of Africa is the river district of the Nile – Egypt; which was adapted to become a mighty centre of independent civilization, and therefore is as isolated and singular in Africa as Africa itself appears in relation to the other parts of the world. The northern part of Africa, which may be specially called that of the coast- territory (for Egypt has been frequently driven back on itself, by the Mediterranean) lies on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic; a magnificent territory, on which Carthage once lay – the site of the modern Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. This part was to be – must be attached to Europe: the French have lately made a successful effort in this direction: like Hither- Asia, it looks Europe-wards. Here in their turn have Carthaginians, Romans, and Byzantines, Mussulmans, Arabians, had their abode, and the interests of Europe have always striven to get a footing in it.
The peculiarly African character is difficult to comprehend, for the very reason that in reference to it, we must quite give up the principle which naturally accompanies all our ideas – the category of Universality. In Negro life the characteristic point is the fact that consciousness has not yet attained to the realization of any substantial objective existence – as for example, God, or Law – in which the interest of man’s volition is involved and in which he realizes his own being. This distinction between himself as an individual and the universality of his essential being, the African in the uniform, undeveloped oneness of his existence has not yet attained; so that the Knowledge of an absolute Being, an Other and a Higher than his individual self, is entirely wanting. The Negro, as already observed, exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and untamed state. We must lay aside all thought of reverence and morality – all that we call feeling – if we would rightly comprehend him; there is nothing harmonious with humanity to be found in this type of character. The copious and circumstantial accounts of Missionaries completely confirm this, and Mahommedanism appears to be the only thing which in any way brings the Negroes within the range of culture. The Ma-hommedans too understand better than the Europeans, how to penetrate into the interior of the country. The grade of culture which the Negroes occupy may be more nearly appreciated by considering the aspect which Religion presents among them. That which forms the basis of religious conceptions is the consciousness on the part of man of a Higher Power – even though this is conceived only as a vis natures – in relation to which he feels himself a weaker, humbler being. Religion begins with the consciousness that there is something higher than man. But even Herodotus called the Negroes sorcerers: – now in Sorcery we have not the idea of a God, of a moral faith; it exhibits man as the highest power, regarding him as alone occupying a position of command over the power of Nature. We have here therefore nothing to do with a spiritual adoration of God, nor with an empire of Right. God thunders, but is not on that account recognized as God. For the soul of man, God must be more than a thunderer, whereas among the Negroes this is not the case. Although they are necessarily conscious of dependence upon nature – for they need the beneficial influence of storm, rain, cessation of the rainy period, and so on – yet this does not conduct them to the consciousness of a Higher Power: it is they who command the elements, and this they call “magic.” The Kings have a class of ministers through whom they command elemental changes, and every place possesses such magicians, who perform special ceremonies, with all sorts of gesticulations, dances, uproar, and shouting, and in the midst of this confusion commence their incantations. The second element in their religion, consists in their giving an outward form to this supernatural power – projecting their hidden might into the world of phenomena by means of images. What they conceive of as the power in question, is therefore nothing really objective, having a substantial being and different from themselves, but the first thing that comes in their way. This, taken quite indiscriminately, they exalt to the dignity of a “Genius”; it may be an animal, a tree, a stone, or a wooden figure. This is their Fetich – a word to which the Portuguese first gave currency, and which is derived from feitizo, magic. Here, in the Fetich, a kind of objective independence as contrasted with the arbitrary fancy of the individual seems to manifest itself; but as the objectivity is nothing other than the fancy of the individual projecting itself into space, the human individuality remains master of the image it has adopted. If any mischance occurs which the Fetich has not averted, if rain is suspended, if there is a failure in the crops, they bind and beat or destroy the Fetich and so get rid of it, making another immediately, and thus holding it in their own power. Such a Fetich has no independence as an object of religious worship; still less has it aesthetic independence as a work of art; it is merely a creation that expresses the arbitrary choice of its maker, and which always remains in his hands. In short there is no relation of dependence in this religion. There is however one feature that points to something beyond; – the Worship of the Dead – in which their deceased forefathers and ancestors are regarded by them as a power influencing the living. Their idea in the matter is that these ancestors exercise vengeance and inflict upon man various injuries – exactly in the sense in which this was supposed of witches in the Middle Ages. Yet the power of the dead is not held superior to that of the living, for the Negroes command the dead and lay spells upon them. Thus the power in question remains substantially always in bondage to the living subject. Death itself is looked upon by the Negroes as no universal natural law; even this, they think, proceeds from evil-disposed magicians. In this doctrine is certainly involved the elevation of man over Nature; to such a degree that the chance volition of man is superior to the merely natural – that he looks upon this as an instrument to which he does not pay the compliment of treating it in a way conditioned by itself, but which he commands.[6]
But from the fact that man is regarded as the Highest, it follows that he has no respect for himself; for only with the consciousness of a Higher Being does he reach a point of view which inspires him with real reverence. For if arbitrary choice is the absolute, the only substantial objectivity that is realized, the mind cannot in such be conscious of any Universality. The Negroes indulge, therefore, that perfect contempt for humanity, which in its bearing on Justice and Morality is the fundamental characteristic of the race. They have moreover no knowledge of the immortality of the soul, although spectres are supposed to appear. The undervaluing of humanity among them reaches an incredible degree of intensity. Tyranny is regarded as no wrong, and cannibalism is looked upon as quite customary and proper. Among us instinct deters from it, if we can speak of instinct at all as appertaining to man. But with the Negro this is not the case, and the devouring of human flesh is altogether consonant with the general principles of the African race; to the sensual Negro, human flesh is but an object of sense – mere flesh. At the death of a King hundreds are killed and eaten; prisoners are butchered and their flesh sold in the markets; the victor is accustomed to eat the heart of his slain foe. When magical rites are performed, it frequently happens that the sorcerer kills the first that comes in his way and divides his body among the bystanders. Another characteristic fact in reference to the Negroes is Slavery. Negroes are enslaved by Europeans and sold to America. Bad as this may be, their lot in their own land is even worse, since there a slavery quite as absolute exists; for it is the essential principle of slavery, that man has not yet attained a consciousness of his freedom, and consequently sinks down to a mere Thing – an object of no value. Among the Negroes moral sentiments are quite weak, or more strictly speaking, non-existent. Parents sell their children, and conversely children their parents, as either has the opportunity. Through the pervading influence of slavery all those bonds of moral regard which we cherish towards each other disappear, and it does not occur to the Negro mind to expect from others what we are enabled to claim. The polygamy of the Negroes has frequently for its object the having many children, to be sold, every one of them, into slavery; and very often naive complaints on this score are heard, as for instance in the case of a Negro in London, who lamented that he was now quite a poor man because he had already sold all his relations. In the contempt of humanity displayed by the Negroes, it is not so much a despising of death as a want of regard for life that forms the characteristic feature. To this want of regard for life must be ascribed the great courage, supported by enormous bodily strength, exhibited by the Negroes, who allow themselves to be shot down by thousands in war with Europeans. Life has a value only when it has something valuable as its object.
Turning our attention in the next place to the category of political constitution, we shall see that the entire nature of this race is such as to preclude the existence of any such arrangement. The standpoint of humanity at this grade is mere sensuous volition with energy of will; since universal spiritual laws (for example, that of the morality of the Family) cannot be recognized here. Universality exists only as arbitrary subjective choice. The political bond can therefore not possess such a character as that free laws should unite the community. There is absolutely no bond, no restraint upon that arbitrary volition. Nothing but external force can hold the State together for a moment. A ruler stands at the head, for sensuous barbarism can only be restrained by despotic power. But since the subjects are of equally violent temper with their master, they keep him on the other hand within limits. Under the chief there are many other chiefs with whom the former, whom we will call the King, takes counsel, and whose consent he must seek to gain, if he wishes to undertake a war or impose a tax. In this relation he can exercise more or less authority, and by fraud or force can on occasion put this or that chieftain out of the way. Besides this the Kings have other specified prerogatives. Among the Ashantees the King inherits all the property left by his subjects at their death. In other places all unmarried women belong to the King, and whoever wishes a wife, must buy her from him. If the Negroes are discontented with their King they depose and kill him. In Dahomey, when they are thus displeased, the custom is to send parrots’ eggs to the King, as a sign of dissatisfaction with his government. Sometimes also a deputation is sent, which intimates to him, that the burden of government must have been very troublesome to him, and that he had better rest a little. The King then thanks his subjects, goes into his apartments, and has himself strangled by the women. Tradition alleges that in former times a state composed of women made itself famous by its conquests: it was a state at whose head was a woman. She is said to have pounded her own son in a mortar, to have besmeared herself with the blood, and to have had the blood of pounded children constantly at hand. She is said to have driven away or put to death all the males, and commanded the death of all male children. These furies destroyed everything in the neighborhood, and were driven to constant plunderings, because they did not cultivate the land. Captives in war were taken as husbands: pregnant women had to betake themselves outside the encampment; and if they had born a son, put him out of the way. This infamous state, the report goes on to say, subsequently disappeared. Accompanying the King we constantly find in Negro States, the executioner, whose office is regarded as of the highest consideration, and by whose hands, the King, though he makes use of him for putting suspected persons to death, may himself suffer death, if the grandees desire it. Fanaticism, which, notwithstanding the yielding disposition of the Negro in other respects, can be excited, surpasses, when roused, all belief. An English traveller states that when a war is determined on in Ashantee, solemn ceremonies precede it: among other things the bones of the King’s mother are laved with human blood. As a prelude to the war, the King ordains an onslaught upon his own metropolis, as if to excite the due degree of frenzy. The King sent word to the English Hutchinson: ‘Christian, take care, and watch well over your family. The messenger of death has drawn his sword and will strike the neck of many Ashantees; when the drum sounds it is the death signal for multitudes. Come to the King, if you can, and fear nothing for yourself.” The drum beat, and a terrible carnage was begun; all who came in the way of the frenzied Negroes in the streets were stabbed. On such occasions the King has all whom he suspects killed, and the deed then assumes the character of a sacred act. Every idea thrown into the mind of the Negro is caught up and realized with the whole energy of his will; but this realization involves a wholesale destruction. These people continue long at rest, but suddenly their passions ferment, and then they are quite beside themselves. The destruction which is the consequence of their excitement, is caused by the fact that it is no positive idea, no thought which produces these commotions; – a physical rather than a spiritual enthusiasm. In Dahomey, when the King dies, the bonds of society are loosed; in his palace begins indiscriminate havoc and disorganization. All the wives of the King (in Dahomey their number is exactly 3,333) are massacred, and through the whole town plunder and carnage run riot. The wives of the King regard this their death as a necessity; they go richly attired to meet it. The authorities have to hasten to proclaim the new governor, simply to put a stop to massacre.
From these various traits it is manifest that want of self-control distinguishes the character of the Negroes. This condition is capable of no development or culture, and as we see them at this day, such have they always been. The only essential connection that has existed and continued between the Negroes and the Europeans is that of slavery. In this the Negroes see nothing unbecoming them, and the English who have done most for abolishing the slave-trade and slavery, are treated by the Negroes themselves as enemies. For it is a point of first importance with the Kings to sell their captured enemies, or even their own subjects; and viewed in the light of such facts, we may conclude slavery to have been the occasion of the increase of human feeling among the Negroes. The doctrine which we deduce from this condition of slavery among the Negroes, and which constitutes the only side of the question that has an interest for our inquiry, is that which we deduce from the Idea: viz., that the “Natural condition” itself is one of absolute and thorough injustice – contravention of the Right and Just. Every intermediate grade between this and the realization of a rational State retains – as might be expected – elements and aspects of injustice; therefore we find slavery even in the Greek and Roman States, as we do serfdom down to the latest times. But thus existing in a State, slavery is itself a phase of advance from the merely isolated sensual existence – a phase of education – a mode of becoming participant in a higher morality and the culture connected with it. Slavery is in and for itself injustice, for the essence of humanity is Freedom; but for this man must be matured. The gradual abolition of slavery is therefore wiser and more equitable than its sudden removal.
At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the World; it has no movement or development to exhibit. Historical movements in it – that is in its northern part – belong to the Asiatic or European World. Carthage displayed there an important transitionary phase of civilization; but, as a Phoenician colony, it belongs to Asia. Egypt will be considered in reference to the passage of the human mind from its Eastern to its Western phase, but it does not belong to the African Spirit. What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World’s History. Having eliminated this introductory element, we find ourselves for the first time on the real theatre of History. It now only remains for us to give a prefatory sketch of the Geographical basis of the Asiatic and European world. Asia is, characteristically, the Orient quarter of the globe – the region of origination. It is indeed a Western world for America; but as Europe presents on the whole, the centre and end of the old world, and is absolutely the West – so Asia is absolutely the East.
In Asia arose the Light of Spirit, and therefore the history of the World.
We must now consider the various localities of Asia. Its physical constitution presents direct antitheses, and the essential relation of these antitheses. Its various geographical principles are formations in themselves developed and perfected. First, the northern slope, Siberia, must be eliminated. This slope, from the Altai chain, with its fine streams, that pour their waters into the northern Ocean, does not at all concern us here; because the Northern Zone, as already stated, lies out of the pale of History. But the remainder includes three very interesting localities. The first is, as in Africa, a massive Upland, with a mountain girdle which contains the highest summits in the World. This Upland is bounded on the South and Southeast, by the Mus-Tag or Imaus, parallel to which, farther south, runs the Himalaya chain. Towards the East, a mountain chain running from South to North, parts off the basin of the Amur. On the North lie the Altai and Songarian mountains; in connection with the latter, in the Northwest the Musart and in the West the Belur Tag, which by the Hindoo Coosh chain are again united with the Mus-Tag.
This high mountain-girdle is broken through by streams, which are dammed up and form great valley plains. These, more or less inundated, present centres of excessive luxuriance and fertility, and are distinguished from the European river districts in their not forming, as those do, proper valleys with valleys branching out from them, but river-plains. Of this kind are – the Chinese Valley Plain, formed by the Hoang-Ho and Yang-tse-Kiang (the yellow and blue streams) – next that of India, formed by the Ganges; – less important is the Indus, which in the north, gives character to the Punjaub, and in the south flows through plains of sand. Farther on, the lands of the Tigris and Euphrates, which rise in Armenia and hold their course along the Persian mountains. The Caspian sea has similar river valleys; in the East those formed by the Oxus and Jaxartes (Gihon and Sihon) which pour their waters into the Sea of Aral; on the West those of the Cyrus and Araxes (Kur and Aras). – The Upland and the Plains must be distinguished from each other; the third element is their intermixture, which occurs in Hither [Anterior] Asia. To this belongs Arabia, the land of the Desert, the upland of plains, the empire of fanaticism. To this belong Syria and Asia Minor, connected with the sea, and having constant intercourse with Europe.
In regard to Asia the remark above offered respecting geographical differences is especially true; viz., that the rearing of cattle is the business of the Upland – agriculture and industrial pursuits that of the valley-plains – while commerce and navigation form the third and last item. Patriarchal independence is strictly bound up with the first condition of society; property and the relation of lord and serf with the second; civil freedom with the third. In the Upland, where the various kinds of cattle breeding, the rearing of horses, camels, and sheep, (not so much of oxen) deserve attention, we must also distinguish the calm habitual life of nomad tribes from the wild and restless character they display in their conquests. These people, without developing themselves in a really historical form, are swayed by a powerful impulse leading them to change their aspect as nations; and although they have not attained an historical character, the beginning of History may be traced to them. It must however be allowed that the peoples of the plains are more interesting. In agriculture itself is involved, ipso facto, the cessation of a roving life. It demands foresight and solicitude for the future: reflection on a general idea is thus awakened; and herein lies the principle of property and productive industry. China, India, Babylonia, have risen to the position of cultivated lands of this kind. But as the peoples that have occupied these lands have been shut up within themselves, and have not appropriated that element of civilization which the sea supplies, (or at any rate only at the commencement of their civilization) and as their navigation of it – to whatever extent it may have taken place – remained without influence on their culture – a relation to the rest of History could only exist in their case, through their being sought out, and their character investigated by others. The mountain-girdle of the upland, the upland itself, and the river-plains, characterize Asia physically and spiritually : but they themselves are not concretely, really, historical elements. The opposition between the extremes is simply recognized, not harmonized; a firm settlement in the fertile plains is for the mobile, restless, roving, condition of the mountain and Upland races, nothing more than a constant object of endeavor. Physical features distinct in the sphere of nature, assume an essential historical relation. – Anterior Asia has both elements in one, and has, consequently, a relation to Europe; for what is most remarkable in it, this land has not kept for itself, but sent over to Europe. It presents the origination of all religious and political principles, but Europe has been the scene of their development.
Europe, to which we now come, has not the physical varieties which we noticed in Asia and Africa. The European character involves the disappearance of the contrast exhibited by earlier varieties, or at least a modification of it; so that we have the milder qualities of a transition state. We have in Europe no uplands immediately contrasted with plains. The three sections of Europe require therefore a different basis of classification. The first part is Southern Europe – looking towards the Mediterranean. North of the Pyrenees, mountain-chains run through France, connected with the Alps that separate and cut off Italy from France and Germany. Greece also belongs to this part of Europe. Greece and Italy long presented the theatre of the World’s History; and while the middle and north of Europe were uncultivated, the World-Spirit found its home here. The second portion is the heart of Europe, which Caesar opened when conquering Gaul. This achievement was one of manhood on the part of the Roman General, and more productive than that youthful one of Alexander, who undertook to exalt the East to a participation in Greek life; and whose work, though in its purport the noblest and fairest for the imagination, soon vanished, as a mere Ideal, in the sequel. – In this centre of Europe, France, Germany, and England are the principal countries.
Lastly, the third part consists of the north-eastern States of Europe – Poland, Russia, and the Slavonic Kingdoms. They come only late into the series of historical States, and form and perpetuate the connection with Asia. In contrast with the physical peculiarities of the earlier divisions, these are, as already noticed, not present in a remarkable degree, but counterbalance each other.
Classification of Historic Data
In the geographical survey, the course of the World’s History has been marked out in its general features. The Sun – the Light – rises in the East. Light is a simply self-involved existence; but though possessing thus in itself universality, it exists at the same time as an individuality in the Sun. Imagination has often pictured to itself the emotions of a blind man suddenly becoming possessed of sight, beholding the bright glimmering of the dawn, the growing light, and the flaming glory of the ascending Sun. The boundless forgetfulness of his individuality in this pure splendor, is his first feeling – utter astonishment. But when the Sun is risen, this astonishment is diminished; objects around are perceived, and from them the individual proceeds to the contemplation of his own inner being, and thereby the advance is made to the perception of the relation between the two. Then inactive contemplation is quitted for activity; by the close of day man has erected a building constructed from his own inner Sun; and when in the evening he contemplates this, he esteems it more highly than the original external Sun. For now he stands in a conscious relation to his Spirit, and therefore a free relation. If we hold this image fast in mind, we shall find it symbolizing the course of History, the great Day’s work of Spirit. The History of the World travels from East to West, for Europe is absolutely the end of History, Asia the beginning. The History of the World has an East kat xochn; (the term East in itself is entirely relative), for although the Earth forms a sphere, History performs no circle round it, but has on the contrary a determinate East, viz., Asia. Here rises the outward physical Sun, and in the West it sinks down: here consentaneously rises the Sun of self-consciousness, which diffuses a nobler brilliance. The History of the World is the discipline of the uncontrolled natural will, bringing it into obedience to a Universal principle and conferring subjective freedom. The East knew and to the present day knows only that One is Free; the Greek and Roman world, that some are free; the German World knows that All are free. The first political form therefore which we observe in History, is Despotism, the second Democracy and Aristocracy, the third Monarchy.
To understand this division we must remark that as the State is the universal spiritual life, to which individuals by birth sustain a relation of confidence and habit, and in which they have their existence and reality – the first question is, whether their actual life is an unreflecting use and habit combining them in this unity, or whether its constituent individuals are reflective and personal beings having a properly subjective and independent existence. In view of this, substantial [objective] freedom must be distinguished from subjective freedom. Substantial freedom is the abstract undeveloped Reason implicit in volition, proceeding to develop itself in the State. But in this phase of Reason there is still wanting personal insight and will, that is, subjective freedom; which is realized only in the Individual, and which constitutes the reflection of the Individual in his own conscience.[7] Where there is merely substantial freedom, commands and laws are regarded as something fixed and abstract, to which the subject holds himself in absolute servitude. These laws need not concur with the desire of the individual, and the subjects are consequently like children, who obey their parents without will or insight of their own. But as subjective freedom arises, and man descends from the contemplation of external reality into his own soul, the contrast suggested by reflection arises, involving the Negation of Reality. The drawing back from the actual world forms ipso facto an antithesis, of which one side is the absolute Being, – the Divine – the other the human subject as an individual. In that immediate, unreflected consciousness which characterizes the East, these two are not yet distinguished. The substantial world is distinct from the individual, but the antithesis has not yet created a schism between (absolute and subjective) Spirit.
The first phase – that with which we have to begin – is the East. Unreflected consciousness – substantial, objective, spiritual existence – forms the basis; to which the subjective will first sustains a relation in the form of faith, confidence, obedience. In the political life of the East we find a realized rational freedom, developing itself without advancing to subjective freedom. It is the childhood of History. Substantial forms constitute the gorgeous edifices of Oriental Empires in which we find all rational ordinances and arrangements, but in such a way, that individuals remain as mere accidents. These revolve round a centre, round the sovereign, who, as patriarch – not as despot in the sense of the Roman Imperial Constitution – stands at the head. For he has to enforce the moral and substantial: he has to uphold those essential ordinances which are already established ; so that what among us belongs entirely to subjective freedom, here proceeds from the entire and general body of the State. The glory of Oriental conception is the One Individual as that substantial being to which all belongs, so that no other individual has a separate existence, or mirrors himself in his subjective freedom. All the riches of imagination and Nature are appropriated to that dominant existence in which subjective freedom is essentially merged; the latter looks for its dignity not in itself, but in that absolute object. All the elements of a complete State – even subjectivity – may be found there, but not yet harmonized with the grand substantial being. For outside the One Power – before which nothing can maintain an independent existence – there is only revolting caprice, which, beyond the limits of the central power, roves at will without purpose or result. Accordingly we find the wild hordes breaking out from the Upland – falling upon the countries in question, and laying them waste, or settling down in them, and giving up their wild life; but in all cases resultlessly lost in the central substance. This phase of Substantiality, since it has not taken up its antithesis into itself and overcome it, directly divides itself into two elements. On the one side we see duration, stability – Empires belonging to mere space, as it were (as distinguished from Time) – unhistorical History; – as for example, in China, the State based on the Family relation; – a paternal Government, which holds together the constitution by its provident care, its admonitions, retributive or rather disciplinary inflictions; – a prosaic Empire, because the antithesis of Form, viz., Infinity, Ideality, has not yet asserted itself. On the other side, the Form of Tame stands contrasted with this spatial stability. The States in question, without undergoing any change in themselves, or in the principle of their existence, are constantly changing their position towards each other. They are in ceaseless conflict, which brings on. rapid destruction. The opposing principle of individuality enters into these conflicting relations; but it is itself as yet only unconscious, merely natural Universality – Light, which is not yet the light of the personal soul. This History, too (i.e., of the struggles before-mentioned) is, for the most part, really unhis-torical, for it is only the repetition of the same majestic ruin. The new element, which in the shape of bravery, prowess, magnanimity, occupies the place of the previous despotic pomp, goes through the same circle of decline and subsidence. This subsidence is therefore not really such, for through all this restless change no advance is made. History passes at this point – and only outwardly, i.e., without connection with the previous phase – to Central Asia.
Continuing the comparison with the ages of the individual man, this would be the boyhood of History, no longer manifesting the repose and trustingness of the child, but boisterous and turbulent. The Greek World may then be compared with the period of adolescence, for here we have individualities forming themselves. This is the second main principle in human History. Morality is, as in Asia, a principle ; but it is morality impressed on individuality, and consequently denoting the free volition of Individuals. Here, then, is the Union of the Moral with the subjective Will, or the Kingdom of Beautiful Freedom, for the Idea is united with a plastic form. It is not yet regarded abstractedly, but immediately bound up with the Real, as in a beautiful work of Art; the Sensuous bears the stamp and expression of the Spiritual. This Kingdom is consequently true Harmony; the world of the most charming, but perishable or quickly passing bloom: it is the natural, unreflecting observance of what is becoming – not yet true Morality. The individual will of the Subject adopts unreflectingly the conduct and habit prescribed by Justice and the Laws. The Individual is therefore in unconscious unity with the Idea – the social weal. That which in the East is divided into two extremes – the substantial as such, and the individuality absorbed in it – meets here. But these distinct principles are only immediately in unity, and consequently involve the highest degree of contradiction; for this aesthetic Morality has not yet passed through the struggle of subjective freedom, in its second birth, its palingenesis; it is not yet purified to the standard of the free subjectivity that is the essence of true morality.
The third phase is the realm of abstract Universality (in which the Social aim absorbs all individual aims) : it is the Roman State, the severe labors of the Manhood of History. For true manhood acts neither in accordance with the caprice of a despot, nor in obedience to a graceful caprice of its own; but works for a general aim, one in which the individual perishes and realizes his own private object only in that general aim. The State begins to have an abstract existence, and to develop itself for a definite object, in accomplishing which its members have indeed a share, but not a complete and concrete one [calling their whole being into play]. Free individuals are sacrificed to the severe demands of the National objects, to which they must surrender themselves in this service of abstract generalization. The Roman State is not a repetition of such a State of Individuals as the Athenian Polis was. The geniality and joy of soul that existed there have given place to harsh and rigorous toil. The interest of History is detached from individuals, but these gain for themselves abstract, formal Universality. The Universal subjugates the individuals; they have to merge their own interests in it; but in return the abstraction which they themselves embody – that is to say, their personality – is recognized: in their individual capacity they become persons with definite rights as such. In the same sense as individuals may be said to be incorporated in the abstract idea of Person, National Individualities (those of the Roman Provinces) have also to experience this fate: in this form of Universality their concrete forms are crushed, and incorporated with it as a homogeneous and indifferent mass. Rome becomes a Pantheon of all deities, and of all Spiritual existence, but these divinities and this Spirit do not retain their proper vitality. – The development of the State in question proceeds in two directions. On the one hand, as based on reflection – abstract Universality – it has the express outspoken antithesis in itself: it therefore essentially involves in itself the struggle which that antithesis supposes; with the necessary issue, that individual caprice – the purely contingent and thoroughly worldly power of one despot – gets the better of that abstract universal principle. At the very outset we have the antithesis between the Aim of the State as the abstract universal principle on the one hand, and the abstract personality of the individual on the other hand. But when subsequently, in the historical development, individuality gains the ascendant, and the breaking up of the community into its component atoms can only be restrained by external compulsion, then the subjective might of individual despotism comes forward to play its part, as if summoned to fulfil this task. For the mere abstract compliance with Law implies on the part of the subject of law the supposition that he has not attained to selforganization and self-control ; and this principle of obedience, instead of being hearty and voluntary, has for its motive and ruling power only the arbitrary and contingent disposition of the individual; so that the latter is led to seek consolation for the loss of his freedom in exercising and developing his private right. This is the purely worldly harmonization of the antithesis. But in the next place, the pain inflicted by Despotism begins to be felt, and Spirit driven back into its utmost depths, leaves the godless world, seeks for a harmony in itself, and begins now an inner life – a complete concrete subjectivity, which possesses at the same time a substantiality that is not grounded in mere external existence. Within the soul therefore arises the Spiritual pacification of the struggle, in the fact that the individual personality, instead of following its own capricious choice, is purified and elevated into universality; – a subjectivity that of its own free will adopts principles tending to the good of all – reaches, in fact, a divine personality. To that worldly empire, this Spiritual one wears a predominant aspect of opposition, as the empire of a subjectivity that has attained to the knowledge of itself – itself in its essential nature – the Empire of Spirit in its full sense.
The German world appears at this point of development – the fourth phase of World-History. This would answer in the comparison with the periods of human life to its Old Age. The Old Age of Nature is weakness; but that of Spirit is its perfect maturity and strength, in which it returns to unity with itself, but in its fully developed character as Spirit. – This fourth phase begins with the Reconciliation presented in Christianity; but only in the germ, without national or political development. We must therefore regard it as commencing rather with the enormous contrast between the spiritual, religious principle, and the barbarian Real World. For Spirit as the consciousness of an inner World is, at the commencement, itself still in an abstract form. All that is secular is consequently given over to rudeness and capricious violence. The Mohammedan principle – the enlightenment of the Oriental World – is the first to contravene this barbarism and caprice. We find it developing itself later and more rapidly than Christianity; for the latter needed eight centuries to grow up into a political form. But that principle of the German World which we are now discussing, attained concrete reality only in the history of the German Nations. The contrast of the Spiritual principle animating the Ecclesiastical State, with the rough and wild barbarism of the Secular State, is here likewise present. The Secular ought to be in harmony with the Spiritual principle, but we find nothing more than the recognition of that obligation. The Secular power forsaken by the Spirit, must in the first instance vanish in presence of the Ecclesiastical (as representative of Spirit) ; but while this latter degrades itself to mere secularity, it loses its influence with the loss of its proper character and vocation. From this corruption of the Ecclesiastical element – that is, of the Church – results the higher form of rational thought. Spirit once more driven back upon itself, produces its work in an intellectual shape, and becomes capable of realizing the Ideal of Reason from the Secular principle alone. Thus it happens, that in virtue of elements of Universality, which have the principle of Spirit as their basis, the empire of Thought is established actually and concretely. The antithesis of Church and State vanishes. The Spiritual becomes reconnected with the Secular, and develops this latter as an independently organic existence. The State no longer occupies a position of real inferiority to the Church, and is no longer subordinate to it. The latter asserts no prerogative, and the Spiritual is no longer an element foreign to the State. Freedom has found the means of realizing its Ideal – its true existence. This is the ultimate result which the process of History is intended to accomplish, and we have to traverse in detail the long track which has been thus cursorily traced out. Yet length of Time is something entirely relative, and the element of Spirit is Eternity. Duration, properly speaking, cannot be said to belong to it.




 



Part I: The Oriental World


We have to begin with the Oriental World, but not before the period in which we discover States in it. The diffusion of Language and the formation of races lie beyond the limits of History. History is prose, and myths fall short of History. The consciousness of external definite existence only arises in connection with the power to form abstract distinctions and assign abstract predicates; and in proportion as a capacity for expressing Laws (of natural or social life) is acquired, in the same proportion does the ability manifest itself to comprehend objects in an unpoetical form. While the ante-historical is that which precedes political life, it also lies beyond self-cognizant life; though surmises and suppositions may be entertained respecting that period, these do not amount to facts. The Oriental World has as its inherent and distinctive principle the Substantial (the Prescriptive), in Morality. We have the first example of a subjugation of the mere arbitrary will, which is merged in this substantiality. Moral distinctions and requirements are expressed as Laws, but so that the subjective will is governed by these Laws as by an external force. Nothing subjective in the shape of disposition, Conscience, formal Freedom, is recognized. Justice is administered only on the basis of external morality, and Government exists only as the prerogative of compulsion. Our civil law contains indeed some purely compulsory ordinances. I can be compelled to give up another man’s property, or to keep an agreement which I have made; but the Moral is not placed by us in the mere compulsion, but in the disposition of the subjects – their sympathy with the requirements of law. Morality is in the East likewise a subject of positive legislation, and although the moral prescriptions (the substance of their Ethics) may be perfect, what should be internal subjective sentiment is made a matter of external arrangement. There is no want of a will to command moral actions, but of a will to perform them because commanded from within. Since Spirit has not yet attained subjectivity, it wears the appearance of spirituality still involved in the conditions of Nature. Since the external and the internal, Law and Moral Sense, are not yet distinguished – still form an undivided unity – so also do Religion and the State. The Constitution generally is a Theocracy, and the Kingdom of God is to the same extent also a secular Kingdom as the secular Kingdom is also divine. What we call God has not yet in the East been realized in consciousness, for our idea of God involves an elevation of the soul to the supersensual. While we obey, because what we are required to do is confirmed by an internal sanction, there the Law is regarded as inherently and absolutely valid without a sense of the want of this subjective confirmation. In the law men recognize not their own will, but one entirely foreign. Of the several parts of Asia we have already eliminated as unhistorical, Upper Asia (so far and so long as its Nomad population do not appear on the scene of history), and Siberia. The rest of the Asiatic World is divided into four districts: first, the River-Plains, formed by the Yellow and Blue Stream, and the Upland of farther Asia – China and the Mongols. Secondly, the valley of the Ganges and that of the Indus. The third theatre of History comprises the river-plains of the Oxus and Jaxartes, the Upland of Persia, and the other valley-plains of the Euphrates and Tigris, to which Hither-Asia attaches itself.


 Fourthly, the River-plain of the Nile.
With China and the Mongols – the realm of theocratic despotism – History begins. Both have the patriarchal constitution for their principle – so modified in China, as to admit the development of an organized system of secular polity; while among the Mongols it limits itself to the simple form of a spiritual, religious sovereignty. In China the Monarch is Chief as Patriarch. The laws of the state are partly civil ordinances, partly moral requirements; so that the internal law – the knowledge on the part of the individual of the nature of his volition, as his own inmost self – even this is the subject of external statutory enactment. The sphere of subjectivity does not then, attain to maturity here, since moral laws are treated as legislative enactments, and law on its part has an ethical aspect. All that we call subjectivity is concentrated in the supreme head of the State, who, in all his legislation has an eye to the health, wealth, and benefit of the whole. Contrasted with this secular Empire is the spiritual sovereignty of the Mongols, at the head of which stands the Lama, who is honored as God. In this Spiritual Empire no secular political life can be developed.
In the second phase – the Indian realm – we see the unity of political organization – a perfect civil machinery, such as exists in China – in the first instance, broken up. The several powers of society appear as dissevered and free in relation to each other. The different castes are indeed, fixed; but in view of the religious doctrine that established them, they wear the aspect of natural distinctions. Individuals are thereby still further stripped of proper personality – although it might appear as if they derived gain from the development of the distinctions in question. For though we find the organization of the State no longer, as in China, determined and arranged by the one all-absorbing personality (the head of the State) the distinctions that exist are attributed to Nature, and so become differences of Caste. The unity in which these divisions must finally meet, is a religious one; and thus arises Theocratic Aristocracy and its despotism. Here begins, therefore, the distinction between the spiritual consciousness and secular conditions; but as the separation implied in the above mentioned distinctions is the cardinal consideration, so also we find in the religion the principle of the isolation of the constituent elements of the Idea; – a principle which posits the harshest antithesis – the conception of the purely abstract unity of God, and of the purely sensual Powers of Nature. The connection of the two is only a constant change – a restless hurrying from one extreme to the other – a wild chaos of fruitless variation, which must appear as madness to a duly regulated, intelligent consciousness.
The third important form – presenting a contrast to the immovable unity of China and to the wild and turbulent unrest of India – is the Persian Realm. China is quite peculiarly Oriental ; India we might compare with Greece; Persia on the other hand with Rome. In Persia namely, the Theocratic power appears as a Monarchy. Now Monarchy is that kind of constitution which does indeed unite the members of the body politic in the head of the government as in a point; but regards that head neither as the absolute director nor the arbitrary ruler, but as a power whose will is regulated by the same principle of law as the obedience of the subject. We have thus a general principle, a Law, lying at the basis of the whole, but which, still regarded as a dictum of mere Nature (not as free and absolute Truth) is clogged by an antithesis (that of formal freedom on the part of man as commanded to obey positive alien requirements). The representation, therefore, which Spirit makes of itself is, at this grade of progress, of a purely natural kind – Light. This Universal principle is as much a regulative one for the monarch as for each of his subjects, and the Persian Spirit is accordingly clear, illuminated – the idea of a people living in pure morality, as in a sacred community. But this has on the one hand as a merely natural Ecclesia, the above antithesis still unreconciled; and its sanctity displays the characteristics of a compulsory, external one. On the other hand this antithesis is exhibited in Persia in its being the Empire of hostile peoples, and the union of the most widely differing nations. The Persian Unity is not that abstract one of the Chinese Empire; it is adapted to rule over many and various nationalities, which it unites under the mild power of Universality as a beneficial Sun shining over all – waking them into life and cherishing their growth. This Universal principle – occupying the position of a root only – allows the several members a free growth for unrestrained expansion and ramification. In the organization of these several peoples, the various principles and forms of life have full play and continue to exist together. We find in this multitude of nations, roving Nomades; then we see in Babylonia and Syria commerce and industrial pursuits in full vigor, the wildest sensuality, the most uncontrolled turbulence. The coasts mediate a connection with foreign lands. In the midst of this confusion the spiritual God of the Jews arrests our attention – like Brahm, existing only for Thought, yet jealous and excluding from his being and abolishing all distinct speciality of manifestations [avatars], such as are freely allowed in other religions. This Persian Empire, then – since it can tolerate these several principles, exhibits the Antithesis in a lively active form, and is not shut up within itself, abstract and calm, as are China and India – makes a real transition in the History of the World. If Persia forms the external transition to Greek life, the internal, mental transition is mediated by Egypt. Here the antitheses in their abstract form are broken through; a breaking through which effects their nullification. This undeveloped reconciliation exhibits the struggle of the most contradictory principles, which are not yet capable of harmonizing themselves, but, setting up the birth of this harmony as the problem to be solved, make themselves a riddle for themselves and for others, the solution of which is only to be found in the Greek World. If we compare these kingdoms in the light of their various fates, we find the empire of the two Chinese rivers the only durable kingdom in the World. Conquests cannot affect such an empire. The world of the Ganges and the Indus has also been preserved. A state of things so destitute of (distinct) thought is likewise imperishable, but it is in its very nature destined to be mixed with other races – to be conquered and subjugated. While these two realms have remained to the present day, of the empires of the Tigris and Euphrates on the contrary nothing remains, except, at most, a heap of bricks; for the Persian Kingdom, as that of Transition, is by nature perishable, and the Kingdoms of the Caspian Sea are given up to the ancient struggle of Iran and Turan. The Empire of the solitary Nile is only present beneath the ground, in its speechless Dead, ever and anon stolen away to all quarters of the globe, and in their majestic habitations; – for what remains above ground is nothing else but such splendid tombs.
Section I: China
With the Empire of China History has to begin, for it is the oldest, as far as history gives us any information ; and its principle has such substantiality, that for the empire in question it is at once the oldest and the newest. Early do we see China advancing to the condition in which it is found at this day ; for as the contrast between objective existence and subjective freedom of movement in it, is still wanting, every change is excluded, and the fixedness of a character which recurs perpetually, takes the place of what we should call the truly historical. China and India lie, as it were, still outside the World’s History, as the mere presupposition of elements whose combination must be waited for to constitute their vital progress. The unity of substantiality and subjective freedom so entirely excludes the distinction and contrast of the two elements, that by this very fact, substance cannot arrive at reflection on itself – at subjectivity. The Substantial [Positive] in its moral aspect, rules therefore, not as the moral disposition of the Subject, but as the despotism of the Sovereign.
No People has a so strictly continuous series of Writers of History as the Chinese. Other Asiatic peoples also have ancient traditions, but no History. The Vedas of the Indians are not such. The traditions of the Arabs are very old, but are not attached to a political constitution and its development. But such a constitution exists in China, and that in a distinct and prominent form. The Chinese traditions ascend to 3000 years before Christ; and the Shu-King, their canonical document, beginning with the government of Yao, places this 2357 years before Christ. It may here be incidentally remarked, that the other Asiatic kingdoms also reach a high antiquity. According to the calculation of an English writer, the Egyptian history (e.g.) reaches to 2207 years before Christ, the Assyrian to 2221, the Indian to 2204. Thus the traditions respecting the principal kingdoms of the East reach to about 2300 years before the birth of Christ. Comparing this with the history of the Old Testament, a space of 2400 years, according to the common acceptation, intervened between the Noachian Deluge and the Christian era. But Johannes von Müller has adduced weighty objections to this number. He places the Deluge in the year 3473 before Christ – thus about 1000 years earlier – supporting his view by the Septuagint. I remark this only with the view of obviating a difficulty that may appear to arise when we meet with dates of a higher age than 2400 years before Christ, and yet find nothing about the Flood. – The Chinese have certain ancient canonical documents, from which their history, constitution, and religion can be gathered. The Vedas and the Mosaic records are similar books; as also the Homeric poems. Among the Chinese these books are called Kings, and constitute the foundation of all their studies. The Shu-King contains their history, treats of the government of the ancient kings, and gives the statutes enacted by this or that monarch. The Y-King consists of figures, which have been regarded as the bases of the Chinese written character, and this book is also considered the groundwork of the Chinese Meditation. For it begins with the abstractions of Unity and Duality, and then treats of the concrete existences pertaining to these abstract forms of thought. Lastly, the Shi-King is the book of the oldest poems in a great variety of styles. The high officers of the kingdom were anciently commissioned to bring with them to the annual festival all the poems composed in their province within the year. The Emperor in full court was the judge of these poems, and those recognized as good received public approbation. Besides these three books of archives which are specially honored and studied, there are besides two others, less important, viz. the Li-Ki (or Li-King) which records the customs and ceremonial observances pertaining to the Imperial dignity, and that of the State functionaries (with an appendix, Yo-King, treating of music); and the Tshun-tsin, the chronicle of the kingdom Lu, where Confucius appeared. These books are the groundwork of the history, the manners and the laws of China. This empire early attracted the attention of Europeans, although only vague stories about it had reached them. It was always marvelled at as a country which, self-originated, appeared to have no connection with the outer world. In the thirteenth century a Venetian (Marco Polo) explored it for the first time, but his reports were deemed fabulous. In later times, everything that he had said respecting its extent and greatness was entirely confirmed. By the lowest calculation, China has 150,000,000 of inhabitants; another makes the number 200,000,000, and the highest raises it even to 300,000,- 000. From the far north it stretches towards the south to India; on the east it is bounded by the vast Pacific, and on the west it extends towards Persia and the Caspian. China Proper is over- populated. On both rivers, the Hoang-ho and the Yang-tse-Kiang, dwell many millions of human beings, living on rafts adapted to all the requirements of their mode of life. The population and the thoroughly organized State-arrangements, descending even to the minutest details, have astonished Europeans ; and a matter of especial astonishment is the accuracy with which their historical works are executed. For in China the Historians are some of the highest functionaries. Two ministers constantly in attendance on the Emperor, are commissioned to keep a journal of everything the Emperor does, commands, and says, and their notes are then worked up and made use of by the Historians. We cannot go further into the minutiae of their annals, which, as they themselves exhibit no development, would only hinder us in ours. Their History ascends to very ancient times, in which Fohi is named as the Diffuser of culture, he having been the original civilizer of China. He is said to have lived in the twenty-ninth century before Christ – before the time, therefore, at which the Shu-King begins; but the mythical and prehistorical is treated by Chinese Historians as perfectly historical. The first region of Chinese history is the north- western corner – China Proper – towards that point where the Hoang-ho descends from the mountains; for only at a later period did the Chinese empire extend itself towards the south, to the Yang-tse-Kiang. The narrative begins with the period in which men lived in a wild state, i.e., in the woods, when they fed on the fruits of the earth, and clothed themselves with the skins of wild beasts. There was no recognition of definite laws among them. To Fohi (who must be duly distinguished from Fo, the founder of a new religion) is ascribed the instruction of men in building themselves huts and making dwellings. He is said to have directed their attention to the change and return of seasons, to barter and trade; to have established marriage; to have taught that Reason came from Heaven, and to have given instructions for rearing silkworms, building bridges, and making use of beasts of burden. The Chinese historians are very diffuse on the subject of these various origins. The progress of the history is the extension of the culture thus originated, to the south, and the beginning of a state and a government. The great Empire which had thus gradually been formed, was soon broken up into many provinces, which carried on long wars with each other, and were then reunited into a Whole. The dynasties in China have often been changed, and the one now dominant is generally marked as the twenty-second. In connection with the rise and fall of these dynasties arose the different capital cities that are found in this empire. For a long time Nankin was the capital; now it is Pekin; at an earlier period other cities. China has been compelled to wage many wars with the Tartars, who penetrated far into the country. The long wall built by Shi-hoang-ti – and which has always been regarded as a most astounding achievement – was raised as a barrier against the inroads of the northern Nomades. This prince divided the whole empire into thirty-six provinces, and made himself especially remarkable by his attacks on the old literature, especially on the historical books and historical studies generally. He did this with the design of strengthening his own dynasty, by destroying the remembrance of the earlier one. After the historical books had been collected and burned, many hundreds of the literati fled to the mountains, in order to save what remained. Every one that fell into the Emperor’s hands experienced the same fate as the books. This Book- burning is a very important circumstance, for in spite of it the strictly canonical books were saved, as is generally the case. The first connection of China with the West occurred about 64 A.D. At that epoch a Chinese emperor despatched ambassadors (it is said) to visit the wise sages of the West. Twenty years later a Chinese general is reported to have penetrated as far as Judea. At the beginning of the eighth century after Christ, the first Christians are reputed to have gone to China, of which visit later visitors assert that they found traces and monuments. A Tartar kingdom, Lyan-Tong, existing in the north of China, is said to have been reduced and taken possession of by the Chinese with the help of the Western Tartars, about 1100 A.D. This, nevertheless, gave these very Tartars an opportunity of securing a footing in China. Similarly they admitted the Manchus with whom they engaged in war in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which resulted in the present dynasty’s obtaining possession of the throne. Yet this new dynasty has not effected further change in the country, any more than did the earlier conquest of the Mongols in the year 1281. The Manchus that live in China have to conform to Chinese laws, and study Chinese sciences.
We pass now from these few dates in Chinese history to the contemplation of the Spirit of the constitution, which has always remained the same. We can deduce it from the general principle, which is, the immediate unity of the substantial Spirit and the Individual; but this is equivalent to the Spirit of the Family, which is here extended over the most populous of countries. The element of Subjectivity – that is to say, the reflection upon itself of the individual will in antithesis to the Substantial (as the power in which it is absorbed) or the recognition of this power as one with its own essential being, in which it knows itself free – is not found on this grade of development. The universal Will displays its activity immediately through that of the individual: the latter has no self-cognizance at all in antithesis to Substantial, positive being, which it does not yet regard as a power standing over against it – as, (e.g.) in Judaism, the “Jealous God” is known as the negation of the Individual. In China the Universal Will immediately commands what the Individual is to do, and the latter complies and obeys with proportionate renunciation of reflection and personal independence. If he does not obey, if he thus virtually separates himself from the Substance of his being, inasmuch as this separation is not mediated by a retreat within a personality of his own, the punishment he undergoes does not affect his subjective and internal, but simply his outward existence. The element of subjectivity is therefore as much wanting to this political totality as the latter is on its side altogether destitute of a foundation in the moral disposition of the subject. For the Substance is simply an individual – the Emperor – whose law constitutes all the disposition.
Nevertheless, this ignoring of inclination does not imply caprice, which would itself indicate inclination – that is, subjectivity and mobility. Here we have the One Being of the State supremely dominant – the Substance, which, still hard and inflexible, resembles nothing but itself – includes no other element. This relation, then, expressed more definitely and more conformably with its conception, is that of the Family. On this form of moral union alone rests the Chinese State, and it is objective Family Piety that characterizes it. The Chinese regard themselves as belonging to their family, and at the same time as children of the State. In the Family itself they are not personalities, for the consolidated unity in which they exist as members of it is consanguinity and natural obligation. In the ‘State they have as little independent personality; for there the patriarchal relation is predominant, and the government is based on the paternal management of the Emperor, who keeps all departments of the State in order. Five duties are stated in the Shu-King as involving grave and unchangeable fundamental relations, 1. The mutual one of the Emperor and people. 2. Of the Fathers and Children. 3. Of an elder and younger brother. 4. Of Husband and Wife. 5. Of Friend and Friend. It may be here incidentally remarked, that the number Five is regarded as fundamental among the Chinese, and presents itself as often as the number Three among us. They have five Elements of Nature – Air, Water, Earth, Metal, and Wood. They recognize four quarters of Heaven and a centre. Holy places, where altars are erected, consist of four elevations, and one in the centre. The duties of the Family are absolutely binding, and established and regulated by law. The son may not accost the father, when he comes into the room; he must seem to contract himself to nothing at the side of the door, and may not leave the room without his father’s permission. When the father dies, the son must mourn for three years – abstaining from meat and wine. The business in which he was engaged, even that of the State, must be suspended, for he is obliged to quit it. Even the Emperor, who has just commenced his government, does not devote himself to his duties during this time. No marriage may be contracted in the family within the period of mourning. Only the having reached his fiftieth year exempts the bereaved from the excessive strictness of the regulations, which are then relaxed that he may not be reduced in person by them. The sixtieth year relaxes them still further, and the seventieth limits mourning to the color of the dress.
A mother is honored equally with a father. When Lord Macartney saw the Emperor, the latter was sixty-eight years old, (sixty years is among the Chinese a fundamental round number, as one hundred is among us), notwithstanding which he visited his mother every morning on foot, to demonstrate his respect for her. The New Year’s congratulations are offered even to the mother of the Emperor; and the Emperor himself cannot receive the homage of the grandees of the court until he has paid his to his mother. The latter is the first and constant counsellor of her son, and all announcements concerning his family are made in her name. – The merits of a son are ascribed not to him, but to his father. When on one occasion the prime minister asked the Emperor to confer titles of honor on his father, the Emperor issued an edict in which it was said: “Famine was desolating the Empire: Thy father gave rice to the starving. What beneficence! The Empire was on the edge of ruin: Thy father defended it at the hazard of his life. What fidelity! The government of the kingdom was intrusted to thy father: he made excellent laws, maintained peace and concord with the neighboring princes, and asserted the rights of my crown. What wisdom! The title therefore which I award to him is: Beneficent, Faithful and Wise.” – The Son had done all that is here ascribed to the Father. In this way ancestors – a fashion the reverse of ours – obtain titles of honor through their posterity. But in return, every Father of a Family is responsible for the transgressions of his descendants; duties ascend, but none can be properly said to descend.
It is a great object with the Chinese, to have children who may give them the due honors of burial, pay respect to their memory after death, and decorate their grave. Although a Chinese may have many wives, one only is the mistress of the house, and the children of the subordinate wives have to honor her absolutely as a mother. If a Chinese husband has no children by any of his wives, he may proceed to adoption with a view to this posthumous honor. For it is an indispensable requirement that the grave of parents be annually visited. Here lamentations are annually renewed, and many, to give full vent to their grief, remain there sometimes one or two months. The body of a deceased father is often kept three or four months in the house, and during this time no one may sit down on a chair or sleep in a bed. Every family in China has a Hall of Ancestors where all the members annually assemble; there are placed representations of those who have filled exalted posts, while the names of those men and women who have been of less importance in the family are inscribed on tablets; the whole family then partake of a meal together, and the poor members are entertained by the more wealthy. It is said that a Mandarin who had become a Christian, having ceased to honor his ancestors in this way, exposed himself to great persecutions on the part of his relatives. The same minuteness of regulation which prevails in the relation between father and children, characterizes also that between the elder brother and the younger ones. The former has, though in a less degree than parents, claims to reverence.
This family basis is also the basis of the Constitution, if we can speak of such. For although the Emperor has the right of a Monarch, standing at the summit of a political edifice, he exercises it paternally. He is the Patriarch, and everything in the State that can make any claim to reverence is attached to him. For the Emperor is chief both in religious affairs and in science – a subject which will be treated of in detail further on. – This paternal care on the part of the Emperor, and the spirit of his subjects – who like children do not advance beyond the ethical principle of the family circle, and can gain for themselves no independent and civil freedom – makes the whole an empire, administration, and social code, which is at the same time moral and thoroughly prosaic – that is, a product of the Understanding without free Reason and Imagination.
The Emperor claims the deepest reverence. In virtue of his position he is obliged personally to manage the government, and must himself be acquainted with and direct the legislative business of the Empire, although the Tribunals give their assistance. Notwithstanding this, there is little room for the exercise of his individual will; for the whole government is conducted on the basis of certain ancient maxims of the Empire, while his constant oversight is not the less necessary. The imperial princes are therefore educated on the strictest plan. Their physical frames are hardened by discipline, and the sciences are their occupation from their earliest years. Their education is conducted under the Emperor’s superintendence, and they are early taught that the Emperor is the head of the State and therefore must appear as the first and best in everything. An examination of the princes takes place every year, and a circumstantial report of the affair is published through the whole Empire, which feels the deepest interest in these matters. China has therefore succeeded in getting the greatest and best governors, to whom the expression “Solomonian Wisdom” might be applied; and the present Manchu dynasty has especially distinguished itself by abilities of mind and body. All the ideals of princes and of princely education which have been so numerous and varied since the appearance of Fenelon’s “Telemaque” are realized here. In Europe there can be no Solomons.
But here are the place and the necessity for such government ; since the rectitude, the prosperity, the security of all, depend on the one impulse given to the first link in the entire chain of this hierarchy. The deportment of the Emperor is represented to us as in the highest degree simple, natural, noble and intelligent. Free from a proud taciturnity or repelling hauteur in speech or manners, he lives in the consciousness of his own dignity and in the exercise of imperial duties to whose observance he has been disciplined from his earliest youth. Besides the imperial dignity there is properly no elevated rank, no nobility among the Chinese; only the princes of the imperial house, and the sons of the ministers enjoy any precedence of the kind, and they rather by their position than by their birth. Otherwise all are equal, and only those have a share in the administration of affairs who have ability for it. Official stations are therefore occupied by men of the greatest intellect and education. The Chinese State has consequently been often set up as an Ideal which may serve even us for a model.
The next thing to be considered is the administration of the Empire. We cannot speak, in reference to China, of a Constitution; for this would imply that individuals and corporations have independent rights – partly in respect of their particular interests, partly in respect of the entire State. This element must be wanting here, and we can only speak of an administration of the Empire. In China, we have the reality of absolute equality, and all the differences that exist are possible only in connection with that administration, and in virtue of the worth which a person may acquire, enabling him to fill a high post in the Government. Since equality prevails in China, but without any freedom, despotism is necessarily the mode of government. Among us, men are equal only before the law, and in the respect paid to the property of each; but they have also many interests and peculiar privileges, which must be guaranteed, if we are to have what we call freedom. But in the Chinese Empire these special interests enjoy no consideration on their own account, and the government proceeds from the Emperor alone, who sets it in movement as a hierarchy of officials or Mandarins. Of these, there are two kinds – learned and military Mandarins – the latter corresponding to our Officers. The Learned Mandarins constitute the higher rank, for, in China, civilians take precedence of the military. Government officials are educated at the schools; elementary schools are instituted for obtaining elementary knowledge. Institutions for higher cultivation, such as our Universities, may, perhaps, be said not to exist. Those who wish to attain high official posts must undergo several examinations – usually three in number. To the third and last examination – at which the Emperor himself is present – only those can be admitted who have passed the first and second with credit; and the reward for having succeeded in this, is the immediate introduction into the highest Council of the Empire. The sciences, an acquaintance with which is especially required, are the History of the Empire, Jurisprudence, and the science of customs and usages, and of the organization and administration of government. Besides this, the Mandarins are said to have a talent for poetry of the most refined order. We have the means of judging of this, particularly from the Romance, Ju-kiao-li, or, “The Two Cousins,” translated by Abel Remusat: in this, a youth is introduced who having finished his studies, is endeavoring to attain high dignities. The officers of the army, also, must have some mental acquirements; they too are examined; but civil functionaries enjoy, at stated above, far greater respect. At the great festivals the Emperor appears with a retinue of two thousand Doctors, i.e. Mandarins in Civil Offices, and the same number of military Mandarins. (In the whole Chinese State, there are about 15,000 civil, and 20,000 military Mandarins.) The Mandarins who have not yet obtained an office, nevertheless belong to the Court, and are obliged to appear at the great festivals in the Spring and Autumn, when the Emperor himself guides the plough. These functionaries are divided into eight classes. The first are those that attend the Emperor, then follow the viceroys, and so on. The Emperor governs by means of administrative bodies, for the most part composed of Mandarins. The Council of the Empire is the highest body of the kind: it consists of the most learned and talented men. From these are chosen the presidents of the other colleges. The greatest publicity prevails in the business of government. The subordinate officials report to the Council of the Empire, and the latter lay the matter before the Emperor, whose decision is made known in the Court Journal. The Emperor often accuses himself of faults; and should his princes have been unsuccessful in their examination, he blames them severely. In every Ministry, and in various parts of the Empire, there is a Censor (Ko-tao), who has to give the Emperor an account of everything. These Censors enjoy a permanent office, and are very much feared. They exercise a strict surveillance over everything that concerns the government, and the public and private conduct of the Mandarins, and make their report immediately to the Emperor. They have also the right of remonstrating with and blaming him. The Chinese History gives many examples of the noble-mindedness and courage of these Ko-taos. For example: A Censor had remonstrated with a tyrannical sovereign, but had been severely repulsed. Nevertheless, he was not turned away from his purpose, but betook himself once more to the Emperor to renew his remonstrances. Foreseeing his death, he had the coffin brought in with him, in which he was to be buried. It is related of the Censors, that – cruelly lacerated by the torturers and unable to utter a sound – they have even written their animadversions with their own blood in the sand. These Censors themselves form yet another Tribunal which has the oversight of the whole Empire. The Mandarins are responsible also for performing duties arising from unforeseen exigencies in the State. If famine, disease, conspiracy, religious disturbances occur, they have to report the facts; not, however, to wait for further orders from government, but immediately to act as the case requires. The whole of the administration is thus covered by a network of officials. Functionaries are appointed to superintend the roads, the rivers, and the coasts. Everything is arranged with the greatest minuteness. In particular, great attention is paid to the rivers; in the Shu-King are to be found many edicts of the Emperor, designed to secure the land from inundations. The gates of every town are guarded by a watch, and the streets are barred all night. Government officers are always answerable to the higher Council. Every Mandarin is also bound to make known the faults he has committed, every five years; and the trustworthiness of his statement is attested by a Board of Control – the Censorship. In the case of any grave crime not confessed, the Mandarins and their families are punished most severely. From all this it is clear that the Emperor is the centre, around which everything turns; consequently the well-being of the country and people depends on him. The whole hierarchy of the administration works more or less according to a settled routine, which in a peaceful condition of things becomes a convenient habit. Uniform and regular, like the course of nature, it goes its own way, at one time as at another time; but the Emperor is required to be the moving, ever wakeful, spontaneously active Soul. If then the personal character of the Emperor is not of the order described – namely, thoroughly moral, laborious, and while maintaining dignity, full of energy – everything is relaxed, and the government is paralyzed from head to foot, and given over to carelessness and caprice. For there is no other legal power or institution extant, but this superintendence and oversight of the Emperor. It is not their own conscience, their own honor, which keeps the offices of government up to their duty, but an external mandate and the severe sanctions by which it is supported. In the instance of the revolution that occurred in the middle of the seventeenth century, the last Emperor of the dynasty was very amiable and honorable; but through the mildness of his character, the reins of government were relaxed, and disturbances naturally ensued. The rebels called the Manchus into the country. The Emperor killed himself to avoid falling into the hands of his enemies, and with his blood wrote on the border of his daughter’s robe a few words, in which he complained bitterly of the injustice of his subjects. A Mandarin, who was with him, buried him, and then killed himself on his grave. The Empress and her attendants followed the example. The last prince of the imperial house, who was besieged in a distant province, fell into the hands of the enemy and was put to death. All the other attendant Mandarins died a voluntary death. Passing from the administration to the Jurisprudence of China, we find the subjects regarded as in a state of nonage, in virtue of the principle of patriarchal government. No independent classes or orders, as in India, have interests of their own to defend. All is directed and superintended from above. All legal relations are definitely settled by rules; free sentiment – the moral standpoint generally – is thereby thoroughly obliterated.[8] It is formally determined by the laws in what way the members of the family should be disposed towards each other, and the transgression of these laws entails in some cases severe punishment. The second point to be noticed here, is the legal externality of the Family relations, which becomes almost slavery. Every one has the power of selling himself and his children; every Chinese buys his wife. Only the chief wife is a free woman. The concubines are slaves, and – like the children and every other chattel – may be seized upon in case of confiscation.
A third point is, that punishments are generally corporal chastisements. Among us, this would be an insult to honor; not so in China, where the feeling of honor has not yet developed itself. A dose of cudgelling is the most easily forgotten; yet it is the severest punishment for a man of honor, who desires not to be esteemed physically assailable, but who is vulnerable in directions implying a more refined sensibility. But the Chinese do not recognize a subjectivity in honor; they are the subjects rather of corrective than retributive punishment – as are children among us; for corrective punishment aims at improvement, that which is retributive implies veritable imputation of guilt. In the corrective, the deterring principle is only the fear of punishment, not any consciousness of wrong; for here we cannot presume upon any reflection upon the nature of the action itself. Among the Chinese all crimes – those committed against the laws of the Family relation, as well as against the State – :are punished externally. Sons who fail in paying due honor to their Father or Mother, younger brothers who are not sufficiently respectful to elder ones, are bastinadoed. If a son complains of injustice done to him by his father, or a younger brother by an elder, he receives a hundred blows with a bamboo, and is banished for three years, if he is in the right; if not, he is strangled. If a son should raise his hand against his father, he is condemned to have his flesh torn from his body with red-hot pincers. The relation between husband and wife is, like all other family relations, very highly esteemed, and unfaithfulness – which, however, on account of the seclusion in which the women are kept, can very seldom present itself – meets with severe animadversion. Similar penalties await the exhibition on the part of a Chinese of greater affection to one of his inferior wives than to the matron who heads his establishment, should the latter complain of such disparagement. In China, every Mandarin is authorized to inflict blows with the bamboo; even the highest and most illustrious – Ministers, Viceroys, and even the favorites of the Emperor himself – are punished in this fashion. The friendship of the Emperor is not withdrawn on account of such chastisement, and they themselves appear not sensibly touched by it. When, on one occasion, the last English embassy to China was conducted home from the palace by the princes and their retinue, the Master of the Ceremonies, in order to make room, without any ceremony cleared the way among the princes and nobles with a whip. As regards responsibility, the distinction between malice prepense and blameless or accidental commission of an act is not regarded; for accident among the Chinese is as much charged with blame, as intention. Death is the penalty of accidental homicide. This ignoring of the distinction between accident and intention occasions most of the disputes between the English and the Chinese; for should the former be attacked by the latter – should a ship of war, believing itself attacked, defend itself, and a Chinese be killed as the consequence – the Chinese are accustomed to require that the Englishman who fired the fatal shot should lose his life. Everyone who is in any way connected with the transgressor, shares – especially in the case of crimes against the Emperor – the ruin of the actual offender: all his near kinsmen are tortured to death. The printers of an objectionable book and those who read it, are similarly exposed to the vengeance of the law. The direction which this state of things gives to private revenge is singular. It may be said of the Chinese that they are extremely sensitive to injuries and of a vindictive nature. To satisfy his revenge the offended person does not venture to kill his opponent, because the whole family of the assassin would be put to death; he therefore inflicts an injury on himself, to ruin his adversary. In many towns it has been deemed necessary to contract the openings of wells, to put a stop to suicides by drowning. For when anyone has committed suicide, the laws ordain that the strictest investigation shall be made into the cause. All the enemies of the suicide are arrested and put to the torture, and if the person who has committed the insult which led to the act, can be discovered, he and his whole family are executed. In case of insult therefore, a Chinese prefers killing himself rather than his opponent; since in either case he must die, but in the former contingency will have the due honors of burial, and may cherish the hope that his family will acquire the property of his adversary. Such is the fearful state of things in regard to responsibility and non-responsibility; all subjective freedom and moral concernment with an action are ignored. In the Mosaic Laws, where the distinction between dolus, culpa, and casus, is also not yet clearly recognized, there is nevertheless an asylum opened for the innocent homicide, to which he may betake himself. – There is in China no distinction in the penal code between higher and lower classes. A field-marshal of the Empire, who had very much distinguished himself, was traduced on some account, to the Emperor; and the punishment for the alleged crime, was that he should be a spy upon those who did not fulfil their duty in clearing away the snow from the streets. – Among the legal relations of the Chinese we have also to notice changes in the rights of possession and the introduction of slavery, which is connected there with it. The soil of China, in which the chief possessions of the Chinese consist, was regarded only at a late epoch as essentially the property of the State. At that time the Ninth of all moneys from estates was allotted by law to the Emperor. At a still later epoch serfdom was established, and its enactment has been ascribed to the Emperor Shi-hoang- ti, who in the year 213 B.C., built the Great Wall; who had all the writings that recorded the ancient rights of the Chinese, burned; and who brought many independent principalities of China under his dominion. His wars caused the conquered lands to become private property, and the dwellers on these lands, serfs. In China, however, the distinction between Slavery and freedom is necessarily, not great, since all are equal before the Emperor – that is, all are alike degraded. As no honor exists, and no one has an individual right in respect of others, the consciousness of debasement predominates, and this easily passes into that of utter abandonment. With this abandonment is connected the great immorality of the Chinese. They are notorious for deceiving wherever they can. Friend deceives friend, and no one resents the attempt at deception on the part of another, if the deceit has not succeeded in its object, or comes to the knowledge of the person sought to be defrauded. Their frauds are most astutely and craftily performed, so that Europeans have to be painfully cautious in dealing with them. Their consciousness of moral abandonment shows itself also in the fact that the religion of Fo is so widely diffused; a religion which regards as the Highest and Absolute – as God – pure Nothing; which sets up contempt for individuality, for personal existence, as the highest perfection.
We come, then, to the consideration of the religious side of the Chinese Polity. In the patriarchal condition the religious exaltation of man has merely a human reference – simple morality and right-doing. The Absolute itself, is regarded partly as the abstract, simple rule of this right-doing – eternal rectitude ; partly as the power which is its sanction. Except in these simple aspects, all the relations of the natural world, the postulates of subjectivity – of heart and soul – are entirely ignored. The Chinese in their patriarchal despotism need no such connection or mediation with the Highest Being; for education, the laws of morality and courtesy, and the commands and government of the Emperor embody all such connection and mediation as far as they feel the need of it. The Emperor, as he is the Supreme Head of the State, is also the Chief of its religion. Consequently, religion is in China essentially State-Religion. The distinction between it and Lamaism must be observed, since the latter is not developed to a State, but contains religion as a free, spiritual, disinterested consciousness. That Chinese religion, therefore, cannot be what we call religion. For to us religion means the retirement of the Spirit within itself, in contemplating its essential nature, its inmost Being. In these spheres, then, man is withdrawn from his relation to the State, and betaking himself to this retirement, is able to release himself from the power of secular government. But in China religion has not risen to this grade, for true faith is possible only where individuals can seclude themselves – can exist for themselves independently of any external compulsory power. In China the individual has no such life; – does not enjoy this independence: in any direction he is therefore dependent; in religion as well as in other things; that is, dependent on objects of nature, of which the most exalted is the material heaven. On this depend harvest, the seasons of the year, the abundance and sterility of crops. The Emperor, as crown of all – the embodiment of power – alone approaches heaven; individuals, as such, enjoy no such privilege. He it is, who presents the offerings at the four feasts; gives thanks at the head of his court, for the harvest, and invokes blessings on the sowing of the seed. This “heaven” might be taken in the sense of our term “God,” as the Lord of Nature (we say, for example, “Heaven protect us!”); but such a relation is beyond the scope of Chinese thought, for here the one isolated self-consciousness is substantial being, the Emperor himself, the Supreme Power. Heaven has therefore no higher meaning than Nature. The Jesuits indeed, yielded to Chinese notions so far as to call the Christian God, “Heaven” – “Tien”; but they were on that account accused to the Pope by other Christian Orders. The Pope consequently sent a Cardinal to China, who died there. A bishop who was subsequently despatched, enacted that instead of “Heaven,” the term “Lord of Heaven” should be adopted. The relation to Tien is supposed to be such, that the good conduct of individuals and of the Emperor brings blessing; their transgressions on the other hand cause want and evil of all kinds. The Chinese religion involves that primitive element of magical influence over nature, inasmuch as human conduct absolutely determines the course of events. If the Emperor behaves well, prosperity cannot but ensue; Heaven must ordain prosperity. A second side of this religion is, that as the general aspect of the relation to Heaven is bound up with the person of the Emperor, he has also its more special bearings in his hands; viz., the particular well-being of individuals and provinces. These have each an appropriate Genius (Chen), which is subject to the Emperor, who pays adoration only to the general Power of Heaven, while the several Spirits of the natural world follow his laws. He is thus made the proper legislator for Heaven as well as for earth. To these Genii, each of which enjoys a worship peculiar to itself, certain sculptured forms are assigned. These are disgusting idols, which have not yet attained the dignity of art, because nothing spiritual is represented in them. They are therefore only terrific, frightful and negative; they keep watch – as among the Greeks do the River-Gods, the Nymphs, and Dryads – over single elements and natural objects. Each of the five Elements has its genius, distinguished by a particular color. The sovereignty of the dynasty that occupies the throne of China also depends on a Genius, and this one has a yellow color. Not less does every province and town, every mountain and river possess an appropriate Genius. All these Spirits are subordinate to the Emperor, and in the Annual Directory of the Empire are registered the functionaries and genii to whom such or such a brook, river, etc., has been intrusted. If a mischance occurs in any part, the Genius is deposed as a Mandarin would be. The Genii have innumerable temples (in Pekin nearly 10,000) to which a multitude of priests and convents are attached. These “Bonzes” live unmarried, and in all cases of distress are applied to by the Chinese for counsel. In other respects, however, neither they nor the temples are much venerated. Lord Macartney’s Embassy was even quartered in a temple – such buildings beings used as inns. The Emperor has sometimes thought fit to secularize many thousands of these convents; to compel the Bonzes to return to civil life; and to impose taxes on the estates appertaining to the foundations. The Bonzes are soothsayers and exorcists: for the Chinese are given up to boundless superstitions. This arises from the want of subjective independence, and presupposes the very opposite of freedom of Spirit. In every undertaking – e.g., if the site of a house, or of a grave, etc., is to be determined – the advice of the Soothsayers as asked. In the Y-King certain lines are given, which supply fundamental forms and categories – on account of which this book is called the “Book of Fates.” A certain meaning is ascribed to the combination of such lines, and prophetic announcements are deduced from this groundwork. Or a number of little sticks are thrown into the air, and the fate in question is prognosticated from the way in which they fall. What we regard as chance, as natural connection, the Chinese seek to deduce or attain by magical arts; and in this particular also, their want of spiritual religion is manifested.
With this deficiency of genuine subjectivity is connected moreover, the form which Chinese Science assumes. In mentioning Chinese sciences we encounter a considerable clamor about their perfection and antiquity. Approaching the subject more closely, we see that the sciences enjoy very great respect, and that they are even publicly extolled and promoted by the Government. The Emperor himself stands at the apex of literature. A college exists whose special business it is to edit the decrees of the Emperor, with a view to their being composed in the best style; and this redaction assumes the character of an important affair of State. The Mandarins in their notifications have to study the same perfection of style, for the form is expected to correspond with the excellence of the matter. One of the highest Governmental Boards is the Academy of Sciences. The Emperor himself examines its members; they live in the palace, and perform the functions of Secretaries, Historians of the Empire, Natural Philosophers, and Geographers. Should a new law be proposed, the Academy must report upon it. By way of introduction to such report it must give the history of existing enactments; or if the law in question affects foreign countries, a description of them is required. The Emperor himself writes the prefaces to the works thus composed. Among recent Emperors Kien-long especially distinguished himself by his scientific acquirements. He himself wrote much, but became far more remarkable by publishing the principal works that China has produced. At the head of the commission appointed to correct the press, was a Prince of the Empire; and after the work had passed through the hands of all, it came once more back to the Emperor, who severely punished every error that had been committed. Though in one aspect the sciences appear thus pre-eminently honored and fostered, there are wanting to them on the other side that free ground of subjectivity, and that properly scientific interest, which make them a truly theoretical occupation of the mind. A free, ideal, spiritual kingdom has here no place. What may be called scientific is of a merely empirical nature, and is made absolutely subservient to the Useful on behalf of the State – its requirements and those of individuals. The nature of their Written Language is at the outset a great hindrance to the development of the sciences. Rather, conversely, because a true scientific interest does not exist, the Chinese have acquired no better instrument for representing and imparting thought. They have, as is well known, beside a Spoken Language, a Written Language; which does not express, as our does, individual sounds – does not present the spoken words to the eye, but represents the ideas themselves by signs. This appears at first sight a great advantage, and has gained the suffrages of many great men – among others, of Leibnitz. In reality, it is anything but such. For if we consider in the first place, the effect of such a mode of writing on the Spoken Language, we shall find this among the Chinese very imperfect, on account of that separation. For our Spoken Language is matured to distinctness chiefly through the necessity of finding signs for each single sound, which latter, by reading, we learn to express distinctly. The Chinese, to whom such a means of orthoepic development is wanting, do not mature the modifications of sounds in their language to distinct articulations capable of being represented by letters and syllables. Their Spoken Language consists of an inconsiderable number of monosyllabic words, which are used with more than one signification. The sole methods of denoting distinctions of meaning are the connection, the accent, and the pronunciation – quicker or slower, softer or louder. The ears of the Chinese have become very sensible to such distinctions. Thus I find that the word Po has eleven different meanings according to the tone: denoting “glass” – “to boil” – “to winnow wheat” – “to cleave asunder” – “to water” – “to prepare” – “an old woman” – “a slave” – “a liberal man” – “a wise person” – “a little.” – As to their Written Language, I will specify only the obstacles which it presents to the advance of the sciences. Our Written Language is very simple for a learner, as we analyze our Spoken Language into about twenty-five articulations, by which analysis, speech is rendered definite, the multitude of possible sounds is limited, and obscure intermediate sounds are banished: we have to learn only these signs and their combinations. Instead of twenty-five signs of this sort, the Chinese have many thousands to learn. The number necessary for use is reckoned at 9,353, or even 10,516, if we add those recently introduced; and the number of characters generally, for ideas and their combinations as they are presented in books, amounts to from 80,000 to 90,000. As to the sciences themselves, History among the Chinese comprehends the bare and definite facts, without any opinion or reasoning upon them. In the same way their Jurisprudence gives only fixed laws, and their Ethics only determinate duties, without raising the question of a subjective foundation for them. The Chinese have, however, in addition to other sciences, a Philosophy, whose elementary principles are of great antiquity, since the Y-King – the Book of Fates – treats of Origination and Destruction. In this book are found the purely abstract ideas of Unity and Duality; the Philosophy of the Chinese appears therefore to proceed from the same fundamental ideas as that of Pythagoras.[9] The fundamental principle recognized is Reason – Tao; that essence lying at the basis of the whole, which effects everything. To become acquainted with its forms is regarded among the Chinese also as the highest science; yet this has no connection with the educational pursuits which more nearly concern the State. The works of Lao-tse, and especially his work “Tao-te-King,” are celebrated. Confucius visited this philosopher in the sixth century before Christ, to testify his reverence for him. Although every Chinaman is at liberty to study these philosophical works, a particular sect, calling itself Tao-tse, “Honorers of Reason,” makes this study its special business. Those who compose it are isolated from civil life; and there is much that is enthusiastic and mystic intermingled with their views. They believe, for instance, that he who is acquainted with Reason, possesses an instrument of universal power, which may be regarded as all-powerful, and which communicates a supernatural might; so that the possessor is enabled by it to exalt himself to Heaven, and is not subject to death (much the same as the universal Elixir of Life once talked of among us). With the works of Confucius we have become more intimately acquainted. To him, China owes the publication of the Kings, and many original works on Morality besides, which form the basis of the customs and conduct of the Chinese. In the principal work of Confucius, which has been translated into English, are found correct moral apophthegms; but there is a circumlocution, a reflex character, and circuitousness in the thought, which prevents it from rising above mediocrity. As to the other sciences, they are not regarded as such, but rather as branches of knowledge for the behoof of practical ends. The Chinese are far behind in Mathematics, Physics, and Astronomy, notwithstanding their quondam reputation in regard to them. They knew many things at a time when Europeans had not discovered them, but they have not understood how to apply their knowledge: as e.g. the Magnet, and the Art of Printing. But they have made no advance in the application of these discoveries. In the latter, for instance, they continue to engrave the letters in wooden blocks and then print them off: they know nothing of movable types. Gunpowder, too, they pretended to have invented before the Europeans; but the Jesuits were obliged to found their first cannon. As to Mathematics, they understand well enough how to reckon, but the higher aspect of the science is unknown. The Chinese also have long passed as great astronomers. Laplace has investigated their acquisitions in this department, and discovered that they possess some ancient accounts and notices of Lunar and Solar Eclipses; but these certainly do not constitute a science. The notices in question are, moreover, so indefinite, that they cannot properly be put in the category of knowledge. In the Shu-King, e.g., we have two eclipses of the sun mentioned in the space of 1,500 years. The best evidence of the state of Astronomy among the Chinese, is the fact that for many hundred years the Chinese calendars have been made by Europeans. In earlier times, when Chinese astronomers continued to compose the calendar, false announcements of lunar and solar eclipses often occurred, entailing the execution of the authors. The telescopes which the Chinese have received as presents from the Europeans, are set up for ornament; but they have not an idea how to make further use of them. Medicine, too, is studied by the Chinese, but only empirically; and the grossest superstition is connected with its practice. The Chinese have as a general characteristic, a remarkable skill in imitation, which is exercised not merely in daily life, but also in art. They have not yet succeeded in representing the beautiful, as beautiful; for in their painting, perspective and shadow are wanting. And although a Chinese painter copies European pictures (as the Chinese do everything else) correctly; although he observes accurately how many scales a carp has; how many indentations there are in the leaves of a tree; what is the form of various trees, and how the branches bend; – the Exalted, the Ideal and Beautiful is not the domain of his art and skill. The Chinese are, on the other hand, too proud to learn anything from Europeans, although they must often recognize their superiority. A merchant in Canton had a European ship built, but at the command of the Governor it was immediately destroyed. The Europeans are treated as beggars, because they are compelled to leave their home, and seek for support elsewhere than in their own country. Besides, the Europeans, just because of their intelligence, have not yet been able to imitate the superficial and perfectly natural cleverness of the Chinese. Their preparation of varnishes – their working of metals, and especially their art of casting them extremely thin – their porcelain manufacture and many other things, have not yet been completely mastered by Europeans.
This is the character of the Chinese people in its various aspects. Its distinguishing feature is, that everything which belongs to Spirit – unconstrained morality, in practice and theory, Heart, inward Religion, Science and Art properly socalled – is alien to it. The Emperor always speaks with majesty and paternal kindness and tenderness to the people; who, however, cherish the meanest opinion of themselves, and believe that they are born only to drag the car of Imperial Power. The burden which presses them to the ground, seems to them to be their inevitable destiny; and it appears nothing terrible to them to sell themselves as slaves, and to eat the bitter bread of slavery. Suicide, the result of revenge, and the exposure of children, as a common, even daily occurrence, show the little respect in which they hold themselves individually, and humanity in general. And though there is no distinction conferred by birth, and everyone can attain the highest dignity, this very equality testifies to no triumphant assertion of the worth of the inner man, but a servile consciousness – one which has not yet matured itself so far as to recognize distinctions.



Section II: India
India, like China, is a phenomenon antique as well as modern; one which has remained stationary and fixed, and has received a most perfect home-sprung development. It has always been the land of imaginative aspiration, and appears to us still as a Fairy region, an enchanted World. In contrast with the Chinese State, which presents only the most prosaic Understanding, India is the region of phantasy and sensibility. The point of advance in principle which it exhibits to us may be generally stated as follows: – In China the patriarchal principle rules a people in a condition of nonage, the part of whose moral resolution is occupied by the regulating law, and the moral oversight of the Emperor. Now it is the interest of Spirit that external conditions should become internal ones; that the natural and the spiritual world should be recognized in the subjective aspect belonging to intelligence; by which process the unity of subjectivity and [positive] Being generally – or the Idealism of Existence – is established. This Idealism, then, is found in India, but only as an Idealism of imagination, without distinct conceptions; – one which does indeed free existence from Beginning and Matter [liberates it from temporal limitations and gross materiality], but changes everything into the merely Imaginative; for although the latter appears interwoven with definite conceptions and Thought presents itself as an occasional concomitant, this happens only through accidental combination. Since, however, it is the abstract and absolute Thought itself that enters into these dreams as their material, we may say that Absolute Being is presented here as in the ecstatic state of a dreaming condition. For we have not the dreaming of an actual Individual, possessing distinct personality, and simply unfettering the latter from limitation, but we have the dreaming of the unlimited absolute Spirit.
There is a beauty of a peculiar kind in women, in which their countenance presents a transparency of skin, a light and lovely roseate hue, which is unlike the complexion of mere health and vital vigor – a more refined bloom, breathed, as it were, by the soul within – and in which the features, the light of the eye, the position of the mouth, appear soft, yielding, and relaxed. This almost unearthly beauty is perceived in women in those days which immediately succeed child-birth; when freedom from the burden of pregnancy and the pains of travail is added to the joy of soul that welcomes the gift of a beloved infant. A similar tone of beauty is seen also in women during the magical somnambulic sleep, connecting them with a world of superterrestrial beauty. A great artist (Schoreel) has moreover given this tone to the dying Mary, whose spirit is already rising to the regions of the blessed, but once more, as it were, lights up her dying countenance for a farewell kiss. Such a beauty we find also in its loveliest form in the Indian World; a beauty of enervation in which all that is rough, rigid, and contradictory is dissolved, and we have only the soul in a state of emotion – a soul, however, in which the death of free self-reliant Spirit is perceptible. For should we approach the charm of this Flower-life – a charm rich in imagination and genius – in which its whole environment and all its relations are permeated by the rose-breath of the Soul, and the World is transformed into a Garden of Love – should we look at it more closely, and examine it in the light of Human Dignity and Freedom – the more attractive the first sight of it had been, so much the more unworthy shall we ultimately find it in every respect.
The character of Spirit in a state of Dream, as the generic principle of the Hindoo Nature, must be further defined. In a dream, the individual ceases to be conscious of self or such, in contradistinction from objective existences. When awake, I exist for myself, and the rest of creation is an external, fixed objectivity, as I myself am for it. As external, the rest of existence expands itself to a rationally connected whole; a system of relations, in which my individual being is itself a member – an individual being united with that totality. This is the sphere of Understanding. In the state of dreaming, on the contrary, this separation is suspended. Spirit has ceased to exist for itself in contrast with alien existence, and thus the separation of the external and individual dissolves before its universality – its essence. The dreaming Indian is therefore all that we call finite and individual; and, at the same time – as infinitely universal and unlimited – a something intrinsically divine. The Indian view of things is a Universal Pantheism, a Pantheism, however, of Imagination, not of Thought. One substance pervades the Whole of things, and all individualizations are directly vitalized and animated into particular Powers. The sensuous matter and content are in each case simply and in the rough taken up, and carried over into the sphere of the Universal and Immeasurable. It is not liberated by the free power of Spirit into a beautiful form, and idealized in the Spirit, so that the sensuous might be a merely subservient and compliant expression of the spiritual; but [the sensuous object itself] is expanded into the immeasurable and undefined, and the Divine is thereby made bizarre, confused, and ridiculous. These dreams are not mere fables – a play of the imagination, in which the soul only revelled in fantastic gambols: it is lost in them; hurried to and fro by these reveries, as by something that exists really and seriously for it. It is delivered over to these limited objects as to its Lords and Gods. Everything, therefore – Sun, Moon, Stars, the Ganges, the Indus, Beasts, Flowers – everything is a God to it. And while, in this deification, the finite loses its consistency and substantiality, intelligent conception of it is impossible. Conversely the Divine, regarded as essentially changeable and unfixed, is also by the base form which it assumes, defiled and made absurd. In this universal deification of all finite existence, and consequent degradation of the Divine, the idea of Theanthropy, the incarnation of God, is not a particularly important conception. The parrot, the cow, the ape, etc., are likewise incarnations of God, yet are not therefore elevated above their nature. The Divine is not individualized to a subject, to concrete Spirit, but degraded to vulgarity and senselessness. This gives us a general idea of the Indian view of the Universe. Things are as much stripped of rationality, of finite consistent stability of cause and effect, as man is of the steadfastness of free individuality, of personality, and freedom. Externally, India sustains manifold relations to the History of the World. In recent times the discovery has been made, that the Sanscrit lies at the foundation of all those further developments which form the languages of Europe; e.g., the Greek, Latin, German. India, moreover, was the centre of emigration for all the western world; but this external historical relation is to be regarded rather as a merely physical diffusion of peoples from this point. Although in India the elements of further developments might be discovered, and although we could find traces of their being transmitted to the West, this transmission has been nevertheless so abstract [so superficial], that that which among later peoples attracts our interest, is not anything derived from India, but rather something concrete, which they themselves have formed, and in regard to which they have done their best to forget Indian elements of culture. The spread of Indian culture is prehistorical, for History is limited to that which makes an essential epoch in the development of Spirit. On the whole, the diffusion of Indian culture is only a dumb, deedless expansion; that is, it presents no political action. The people of India have achieved no foreign conquests, but have been on every occasion vanquished themselves. And as in this silent way, Northern India has been a centre of emigration, productive of merely physical diffusion, India as a Land of Desire forms an essential element in General History. From the most ancient times downwards, all nations have directed their wishes and longings to gaining access to the treasures of this land of marvels, the most costly which the Earth presents; treasures of Nature – pearls, diamonds, perfumes, rose-essences, elephants, lions, etc. – as also treasures of wisdom. The way by which these treasures have passed to the West, has at all times been a matter of World- historical importance, bound up with the fate of nations. Those wishes have been realized; this Land of Desire has been attained ; there is scarcely any great nation of the East, nor of the Modern European West, that has not gained for itself a smaller or larger portion of it. In the old world, Alexander the Great was the first to penetrate by land to India, but even he only just touched it. The Europeans of the modern world have been able to enter into direct connection with this land of marvels only circuitously from the other side; and by way of the sea, which, as has been said, is the general uniter of countries. The English, or rather the East India Company, are the lords of the land; for it is the necessary fate of Asiatic Empires to be subjected to Europeans; and China will, some day or other, be obliged to submit to this fate. The number of inhabitants is near 200,000,000, of whom from 100,000,000 to 112,000,000 are directly subject to the English. The Princes who are not immediately subject to them have English Agents at their Courts, and English troops in their pay. Since the country of the Mahrattas was conquered by the English, no part of India has asserted its independence of their sway. They have already gained a footing in the Burman Empire, and passed the Brahmaputra, which bounds India on the east.
India Proper is the country which the English divide into two large sections: the Deccan – the great peninsula which has the Bay of Bengal on the east, and the Indian Sea on the west – and Hindostan, formed by the valley of the Ganges, and extending in the direction of Persia. To the northeast, Hindostan is bordered by the Himalaya, which has been ascertained by Europeans to be the highest mountain range in the world, for its summits are about 26,000 feet above the level of the sea. On the other side of the mountains the level again declines; the dominion of the Chinese extends to that point, and when the English wished to go to Lassa to the Dalai-Lama, they were prevented by the Chinese. Towards the west of India flows the Indus, in which the five rivers are united, which are called the Pentjâb (Punjab), into which Alexander the Great penetrated. The dominion of the English does not extend to the Indus; the sect of the Sikhs inhabits that district, whose constitution is thoroughly democratic, and who have broken off from the Indian as well as from the Mohammedan religion, and occupy an intermediate ground – acknowledging only one Supreme Being. They are a powerful nation, and have reduced to subjection Cabul and Cashmere. Besides these there dwell along the Indus genuine Indian tribes of the Warrior-Caste. Between the Indus and its twin-brother, the Ganges, are great plains. The Ganges, on the other hand, forms large Kingdoms around it, in which the sciences have been so highly developed, that the countries around the Ganges enjoy a still greater reputation than those around the Indus. The Kingdom of Bengal is especially flourishing. The Nerbuddah forms the boundary between the Deccan and Hindostan. The peninsula of the Deccan presents a far greater variety than Hindostan, and its rivers possess almost as great a sanctity as the Indus and the Ganges – which latter has become a general name for all the rivers in India, as the River kat exochn. We call the inhabitants of the great country which we have now to consider Indians, from the river Indus (the English call them Hindoos). They themselves have never given a name to the whole, for it has never become one Empire, and yet we consider it as such.
With regard to the political life of the Indians, we must first consider the advance it presents in contrast with China. In China there prevailed an equality among all the individuals composing the empire; consequently all government was absorbed in its centre, the Emperor, so that individual members could not attain to independence and subjective freedom. The next degree in advance of this Unity is Difference, maintaining its independence against the all-subduing power of Unity. An organic life requires in the first place One Soul, and in the second place, a divergence into differences, which become organic members, and in their several offices develop themselves to a complete system; in such a way, however, that their activity reconstitutes that one soul. This freedom of separation is wanting in China. The deficiency is that diversities cannot attain to independent existence. In this respect, the essential advance is made in India, viz.: that independent members ramify from the unity of despotic power. Yet the distinctions which these imply are referred to Nature. Instead of stimulating the activity of a soul as their centre of union, and spontaneously realizing that soul – as is the case in organic life – they petrify and become rigid, and by their stereotyped character condemn the Indian people to the most degrading spiritual serfdom. The distinctions in question are the Castes. In every rational State there are distinctions which must manifest themselves. Individuals must arrive at subjective freedom, and in doing so, give an objective form to these diversities. But Indian culture has not attained to a recognition of freedom and inward morality; the distinctions which prevail are only those of occupations, and civil conditions. In a free state also, such diversities give rise to particular classes, so combined, however, that their members can maintain their individuality. In India we have only a division in masses – a division, however, that influences the whole political life and the religious consciousness. The distinctions of class, like that [rigid] Unity in China, remain consequently on the same original grade of substantiality, i.e., they are not the result of the free subjectivity of individuals. Examining the idea of a State and its various functions, we recognize the first essential function as that whose scope is the absolutely Universal; of which man becomes conscious first in Religion, then in Science. God, the Divine [tw qeion] is the absolutely Universal. The highest class therefore will be the one by which the Divine is presented and brought to bear on the community – the class of Brahmins. The second element or class, will represent subjective power and valor. Such power must assert itself, in order that the whole may stand its ground, and retain its integrity against other such totalities or states. This class is that of the Warriors and Governors – the Cshatriyas; although Brahmins often become governors. The third order of occupation recognized is that which is concerned with the specialities of life – the satisfying of its necessities – and comprehends agriculture, crafts and trade; the class of the Vaisyas. Lastly, the fourth element is the class of service, the mere instrument for the comfort of others, whose business it is to work for others for wages affording a scanty subsistence – the caste of Sudras. This servile class – properly speaking – constitutes no special organic class in the state, because its members only serve individuals: their occupations are therefore dispersed among them and are consequently attached to that of the previously mentioned castes. – Against the existence of “classes” generally, an objection has been brought – especially in modern times – drawn from the consideration of the State in its “aspect” of abstract equity. But equality in civil life is something absolutely impossible; for individual distinctions of sex and age will always assert themselves; and even if an equal share in the government is accorded to all citizens, women and children are immediately passed by, and remain excluded. The distinction between poverty and riches, the influence of skill and talent, can be as little ignored – utterly refuting those abstract assertions. But while this principle leads us to put up with variety of occupations, and distinction of the classes to which they are intrusted, we are met here in India by the peculiar circumstance that the individual belongs to such a class essentially by birth, and is bound to it for life. All the concrete vitality that makes its appearance sinks back into death. A chain binds down the life that was just upon the point of breaking forth. The promise of freedom which these distinctions hold out is therewith completely nullified. What birth has separated mere arbitrary choice has no right to join together again: therefore, the castes preserving distinctness from their very origin, are presumed not to be mixed or united by marriage. Yet even Arrian (Ind. 11) reckoned seven castes, and in later times more than thirty have been made out; which, notwithstanding all obstacles, have arisen from the union of the various classes. Polygamy necessarily tends to this. A Brahmin, e.g., is allowed three wives from the three other castes, provided he has first taken one from his own. The offspring of such mixtures originally belonged to no caste, but one of the kings invented a method of classifying these casteless persons, which involved also the commencement of arts and manufactures. The children in question were assigned to particular employments; one section became weavers, another wrought in iron, and thus different classes arose from these different occupations. The highest of these mixed castes consists of those who are born from the marriage of a Brahmin with a wife of the Warrior caste; the lowest is that of the Chandâlas, who have to remove corpses, to execute criminals, and to perform impure offices generally. The members of this caste are excommunicated and detested; and are obliged to live separate and far from association with others. The Chandâlas are obliged to move out of the way for their superiors, and a Brahmin may knock down any that neglect to do so. If a Chandâla drinks out of a pond it is defiled, and requires to be consecrated afresh. We must next consider the relative position of these castes. Their origin is referred to a myth, which tells us that the Brahmin caste proceeded from Brahma’s mouth; the Warrior caste from his arms; the industrial classes from his loins; the servile caste from his foot. Many historians have set up the hypothesis that the Brahmins originally formed a separate sacerdotal nation, and this fable is especially countenanced by the Brahmins themselves. A people consisting of priests alone is, assuredly, the greatest absurdity, for we know a priori, that a distinction of classes can exist only within a people; in every nation the various occupations of life must present themselves, for they belong to the objectivity of Spirit. One class necessarily supposes another, and the rise of castes generally, is only a result of the united life of a nation. A nation of priests cannot exist without agriculturists and soldiers. Classes cannot be brought together from without; they are developed only from within. They come forth from the interior of national life, and not conversely. But that these distinctions are here attributed to Nature, is a necessary result of the Idea which the East embodies. For while the individual ought properly to be empowered to choose his occupation, in the East, on the contrary, internal subjectivity is not yet recognized as independent; and if distinction obtrude themselves, their recognition is accompanied by the belief that the individual does not choose his particular position for himself, but receives it from Nature. In China the people are dependent – without distinction of classes – on the laws and moral decision of the Emperor; consequently on a human will. Plato, in his Republic, assigns the arrangement in different classes with a view to various occupations, to the choice of the governing body. Here, therefore, a moral, a spiritual power is the arbiter. In India, Nature is this governing power. But this natural destiny need not have led to that degree of degradation which we observe here, if the distinctions had been limited to occupation with what is earthly – to forms of objective Spirit. In the feudalism of mediaeval times, individuals were also confined to a certain station in life; but for all there was a Higher Being, superior to the most exalted earthly dignity, and admission to holy orders was open to all. This is the grand distinction, that here Religion holds the same position towards all; that, although the son of a mechanic becomes a mechanic, the son of a peasant a peasant, and free choice is often limited by many restrictive circumstances, the religious element stands in the same relation to all, and all are invested with an absolute value by religion. In India the direct contrary is the case. Another distinction between the classes of society as they exist in the Christian world and those in Hindostan is the moral dignity which exists among us in every class, constituting that which man must possess in and through himself. In this respect the higher classes are equal to the lower; and while religion is the higher sphere in which all sun themselves, equality before the law – rights of person and of property – are gained for every class. But by the fact that in India, as already observed, differences extend not only to the objectivity of Spirit, but also to its absolute subjectivity, and thus exhaust all its relations – neither morality, nor justice, nor religiosity is to be found.
Every caste has its especial duties and rights. Duties and rights, therefore, are not recognized as pertaining to mankind generally, but as those of a particular caste. While we say, “Bravery is a virtue,” the Hindoos say, on the contrary, “Bravery is the virtue of the Cshatryas.” Humanity generally, human duty and human feeling do not manifest themselves; we find only duties assigned to the several castes. Everything is petrified into these distinctions, and over this petrifaction a capricious destiny holds sway. Morality and human dignity are unknown; evil passions have their full swing; the Spirit wanders into the Dream-World, and the highest state is Annihilation.
To gain a more accurate idea of what the Brahmins are, and in what the Brahminical dignity consists, we must investigate the Hindoo religion and the conceptions it involves, to which we shall have to return further on; for the respective rights of castes have their basis in a religious relation. Brahma (neuter) is the Supreme in Religion, but there are besides chief divinities Brahmâ (masc.) Vishnu or Krishna – incarnate in infinitely diverse forms – and Siva. These form a connected Trinity. Brahma is the highest; but Vishnu or Krishna, Siva, the Sun moreover, the Air, etc., are also Brahm, i.e., Substantial Unity. To Brahm itself no sacrifices are offered; it is not honored; but prayers are presented to all other idols. Brahm itself is the Substantial Unity of All. The highest religious position of man, therefore is, being exalted to Brahm. If a Brahmin is asked what Brahm is, he answers: When I fall back within myself, and close all external senses, and say dm to myself, that is Brahm. Abstract unity with God is realized in this abstraction from humanity. An abstraction of this kind may in some cases leave everything else unchanged, as does devotional feeling, momentarily excited. But among the Hindoos it holds a negative position towards all that is concrete; and the highest state is supposed to be this exaltation, by which the Hindoo raises himself to deity. The Brahmins, in virtue of their birth, are already in possession of the Divine. The distinction of castes involves, therefore, a distinction between present deities and mere limited mortals. The other castes may likewise become partakers in a Regeneration; but they must subject themselves to immense self-denial, torture and penance. Contempt of life, and of living humanity, is the chief feature in this ascesis. A large number of the non-Brahminical population strive to attain Regeneration. They are called Yogis. An Englishman who, on a journey to Thibet to visit the Dalai-Lama, met such a Yogi, gives the following account: The Yogi was already on the second grade in his ascent to Brahminical dignity. He had passed the first grade by remaining for twelve years on his legs, without ever sitting or lying down. At first he had bound himself fast to a tree with a rope, until he had accustomed himself to sleep standing. The second grade required him to keep his hands clasped together over his head for twelve years in succession. Already his nails had almost grown into his hands. The third grade is not always passed through in the same way; generally the Yogi has to spend a day between five fires, that is, between four fires occupying the four quarters of heaven, and the Sun. He must then swing backwards and forwards over the fire, a ceremony occupying three hours and three-quarters.
Englishmen present at an act of this kind, say that in half an hour the blood streamed forth from every part of the devotee’s body; he was taken down and presently died. If this trial is also surmounted, the aspirant is finally buried alive, that is put into the ground in an upright position and quite covered over with soil; after three hours and three-quarters he is drawn out, and if he lives, he is supposed to have at last attained the spiritual power of a Brahmin. Thus only by such negation of his existence does anyone attain Brahminical power. In its highest degree this negation consists in a sort of hazy consciousness of having attained perfect mental immobility – the annihilation of all emotion and all volition; – a condition which is regarded as the highest among the Buddhists also. However pusillanimous and effeminate the Hindoos may be in other respects, it is evident how little they hesitate to sacrifice themselves to the Highest – to Annihilation. Another instance of the same is the fact of wives burning themselves after the death of their husbands. Should a woman contravene this traditional usage, she would be severed from society, and perish in solitude. An Englishman states that he also saw a woman burn herself because she had lost her child. He did all that he could to divert her away from her purpose; at last he applied to her husband who was standing by, but he showed himself perfectly indifferent, as he had more wives at home. Sometimes twenty women are seen throwing themselves at once into the Ganges, and on the Himalaya range an English traveller found three women seeking the source of the Ganges, in order to put an end to their life in this holy river. At a religious festival in the celebrated temple of Juggernaut in Orissa, on the Bay of Bengal, where millions of Hindoos assemble, the image of the god Vishnu is drawn in procession on a car: about five hundred men set it in motion, and many fling themselves down before its wheels to be crushed to pieces. The whole seashore is already strewed with the bodies of persons who have thus immolated themselves. Infanticide is also very common in India. Mothers throw their children into the Ganges, or let them pine away under the rays of the sun. The morality which is involved in respect for human life is not found among the Hindoos. There are besides those already mentioned, infinite modifications of the same principle of conduct, all pointing to annihilation. This, e.g., is the leading principle of the Gymnosophists, as the Greeks called them. Naked Fakirs wander about without any occupation, like the mendicant friars of the Catholic church; live on the alms of others, and make it their aim to reach the highest degree of abstraction – the perfect deadening of consciousness; a point from which the transition to physical death is no great step. This elevation which others can only attain by toilsome labor is, as already stated, the birthright of the Brahmins. The Hindoo of another caste, must, therefore, reverence the Brahmin as a divinity; fall down before him, and say to him: “Thou art God.” And this elevation cannot have anything to do with moral conduct, but – inasmuch as all internal morality is absent – is rather dependent on a farrago of observances relating to the merest externalities and trivialities of existence. Human life, it is said, ought to be a perpetual Worship of God. It is evident how hollow such general aphorisms are, when we consider the concrete forms which they may assume. They require another, a further qualification, if they are to have a meaning. The Brahmins are a present deity, but their spirituality has not yet been reflected inwards in contrast with Nature; and thus that which is purely indifferent is treated as of absolute importance. The employment of the Brahmins consists principally in the reading of the Vêdas: they only have a right to read them. Were a Sudra to read the Vêdas, or to hear them read, he would be severely punished, and burning oil must be poured into his ears. The external observances binding on the Brahmins are prodigiously numerous, and the Laws of Manu treat of them as the most essential part of duty. The Brahmin must rest on one particular foot in rising, then wash in a river; his hair and nails must be cut in neat curves, his whole body purified, his garments white; in his hand must be a staff of a specified kind; in his ears a golden earring. If the Brahmin meets a man of an inferior caste, he must turn back and purify himself. He has also to read in the Vêdas, in various ways: each word separately, or doubling them alternately, or backwards. He may not look to the sun when rising or setting, or when overcast by clouds or reflected in the water. He is forbidden to step over a rope to which a calf is fastened, or to go out when it rains. He may not look at his wife when she eats, sneezes, gapes, or is quietly seated. At the midday meal he may only have one garment on, in bathing never be quite naked. How minute these directions are may be especially judged of from the observances binding on the Brahmins in regard to satisfying the calls of nature. This is forbidden to them in a great thoroughfare, on ashes, on ploughed land, on a hill, a nest of white ants, on wood destined for fuel, in a ditch, walking or standing, on the bank of a river, etc. At such a time they may not look at the sun, at water, or at animals. By day they should keep their face generally directed to the north, but by night to the south; only in the shade are they allowed to turn to which quarter they like. It is forbidden to everyone who desires a long life to step on potsherds, cotton seeds, ashes, or sheaves of corn, or his urine. In the episode Nala, in the poem of Mahabharata, we have a story of a virgin who in her 21st year – the age in which the maidens themselves have a right to choose a husband – makes a selection from among her wooers. There are five of them; but the maiden remarks that four of them do not stand firmly on their feet, and thence infers correctly that they are Gods. She therefore chooses the fifth, who is a veritable man. But besides the four despised divinities there are two malevolent ones, whom her choice had not favored, and who on that account wish for revenge. They therefore keep a strict watch on the husband of their beloved in every step and act of life, with the design of inflicting injury upon him if he commits a misdemeanor. The persecuted husband does nothing that can be brought against him, until at last he is so incautious as to step on his urine. The Genius has now an advantage over him; he afflicts him with a passion for gambling, and so plunges him into the abyss.
While, on the one hand, the Brahmins are subject to these strict limitations and rules, on the other hand their life is sacred; it cannot answer for crimes of any kind; and their property is equally secure from being attacked. The severest penalty which the ruler can inflict upon them amounts to nothing more than banishment. The English wished to introduce trial by jury into India – the jury to consist half of Europeans, half of Hindoos – and submitted to the natives, whose wishes on the subject were consulted, the powers with which the panel would be intrusted. The Hindoos were for making a number of exceptions and limitations. They said, among other things, that they could not consent that a Brahmin should be condemned to death; not to mention other objections, e.g., that looking at and examining a corpse was out of the question. Although in the case of a Warrior the rate of interest may be as high as three per cent, in that of a Vaisya four per cent, a Brahmin is never required to pay more than two per cent. The Brahmin possesses such a power, that Heaven’s lightning would strike the King who ventured to lay hands on him or his property. For the meanest Brahmin is so far exalted above the King, that he would be polluted by conversing with him, and would be dishonored by his daughters choosing a prince in marriage. In Manu’s Code it is said: “If anyone presumes to teach a Brahmin his duty, the King must order that hot oil be poured into the ears and mouth of such an instructor. If one who is only once-born, loads one who is twice-born with reproaches, a red hot iron bar ten inches long shall be thrust into his mouth.” On the other hand a Sudra is condemned to have a red hot iron thrust into him from behind if he rest himself in the chair of a Brahmin, and to have his foot or his hand hewed off if he pushes against a Brahmin with hands or feet. It is even permitted to give false testimony, and to lie before a Court of Justice, if a Brahmin can be thereby freed from condemnation. As the Brahmins enjoy advantages over the other Castes, the latter in their turn have privileges according to precedence, over their inferiors. If a Sudra is defiled by contact with a Pariah, he has the right to knock him down on the spot. Humanity on the part of a higher Caste towards an inferior one is entirely forbidden, and a Brahmin would never think of assisting a member of another Caste, even when in danger. The other Castes deem it a great honor when a Brahmin takes their daughters as his wives – a thing however, which is permitted him, as already stated, only when he has already taken one from his own Caste. Thence arises the freedom the Brahmins enjoy in getting wives. At the great religious festivals they go among the people and choose those that please them best; but they also repudiate them at pleasure.
If a Brahmin or a member of any other Caste transgresses the above cited laws and precepts, he is himself excluded from his caste, and in order to be received back again, he must have a hook bored through the hips, and be swung repeatedly backwards and forwards in the air. There are also other forms of restoration. A Rajah who thought himself injured by an English Governor sent two Brahmins to England to detail his grievances. But the Hindoos are forbidden to cross the sea, and these envoys on their return were declared excommunicated from their caste, and in order to be restored to it, they had to be born again from a golden cow. The imposition was so far lightened, that only those parts of the cow out of which they had to creep were obliged to be golden; the rest might consist of wood. These various usages and religious observances to which every Caste is subject have occasioned great perplexity to the English, especially in enlisting soldiers. At first these were taken from the Sudra-Caste, which is not bound to observe so many ceremonies; but nothing could be done with them, they therefore betook themselves to the Cshatriya class. These however have an immense number of regulations to observe – they may not eat meat, touch a dead body, drink out of a pool in which cattle or Europeans have drunk, not eat what others have cooked, etc. Each Hindoo assumes one definite occupation, and that only, so that one must have an infinity of servants; – a Lieutenant has thirty, a Major sixty. Thus every Caste has its own duties; the lower the Caste, the less it has to observe; and as each individual has his position assigned by birth, beyond this fixed arrangement everything is governed by caprice and force. In the Code of Manu punishments increase in proportion to the inferiority of Castes, and there is a distinction in other respects. If a man of a higher Caste brings an accusation against an inferior without proof, the former is not punished; if the converse occurs, the punishment is very severe. Cases of theft are exceptional; in this case the higher the Caste the heavier is the penalty.
In respect to property the Brahmins have a great advantage, for they pay no taxes. The prince receives half the income from the lands of others; the remainder has to suffice for the cost of cultivation and the support of the laborers. It is an extremely important question, whether the cultivated land in India is recognized as belonging to the cultivator, or belongs to a so-called manorial proprietor. The English themselves have had great difficulty in establishing a clear understanding about it. For when they conquered Bengal, it was of great importance to them, to determine the mode in which taxes were to be raised on property, and they had to ascertain whether these should be imposed on the tenant cultivators or the lord of the soil. They imposed the tribute on the latter; but the result was that the proprietors acted in the most arbitrary manner: drove away the tenant cultivators, and declaring that such or such an amount of land was not under cultivation, gained an abatement of tribute. They then took back the expelled cultivators as day-laborers, at a low rate of wages, and had the land cultivated on their own behalf. The whole income belonging to every village is, as already stated, divided into two parts, of which one belongs to the Rajah, the other to the cultivators; but proportionate shares are also received by the Provost of the place, the Judge, the Water-Surveyor, the Brahmin who superintends religious worship, the Astrologer (who is also a Brahmin, and announces the days of good and ill omen), the Smith, the Carpenter, the Potter, the Washerman, the Barber, the Physician, the Dancing Girls, the Musician, the Poet. This arrangement is fixed and immutable, and subject to no one’s will. All political revolutions, therefore, are matters of indifference to the common Hindoo, for his lot is unchanged.
The view given of the relation of castes leads directly to the subject of Religion. For the claims of caste are, as already remarked, not merely secular, but essentially religious, and the Brahmins in their exalted dignity are the very gods bodily present. In the laws of Manu it is said: “Let the King, even in extreme necessity, beware of exciting the Brahmins against him; for they can destroy him with their power – they who create Fire, Sun, Moon, etc.” They are servants neither of God nor of his People, but are God himself to the other Castes – a position of things which constitutes the perverted character of the Hindoo mind. The dreaming Unity of Spirit and nature, which involves a monstrous bewilderment in regard to all phenomena and relations, we have already recognized as the principle of the Hindoo Spirit. The Hindoo Mythology is therefore only a wild extravagance of Fancy, in which nothing has a settled form; which takes us abruptly from the Meanest to the Highest, from the most sublime to the most disgusting and trivial. Thus it is also difficult to discover what the Hindoos understand by Brahm. We are apt to take our conception of Supreme Divinity – the One – the Creator of Heaven and Earth – and apply it to the Indian Brahm. Brahma is distinct from Brahm – the former constituting one personality in contrasted relation to Vishnu and Siva. Many therefore call the Supreme Existence who is over the first mentioned deity, Para-brahma. The English have taken a good deal of trouble to find out what Brahm properly is. Wilford has asserted that Hindoo conceptions recognize two Heavens: the first, the earthly paradise, the second, Heaven in a spiritual sense. To attain them, two different modes of worship are supposed to be required. The one involves external ceremonies, Idol- Worship; the other requires that the Supreme Being should be honored in spirit. Sacrifices, purifications, pilgrimages are not needed in the latter. This authority states moreover that there are few Hindoos ready to pursue the second way, because they cannot understand in what the pleasure of the second heaven consists, and that if one asks a Hindoo whether he worships Idols, every one says “Yes!” but to the question, “Do you worship the Supreme Being? “ every one answers “No.” If the further question is put, “ What is the meaning of that practice of yours, that silent meditation which some of your learned men speak of?” they respond, “When I pray to the honor of one of the Gods, I sit down – the foot of either leg on the thigh of the other – look towards Heaven, and calmly elevate my thoughts with my hands folded in silence; then I say, I am Brahm the Supreme Being. We are not conscious to ourselves of being Brahm, by reason of Maya (the delusion occasioned by the outward world). It is forbidden to pray to him, and to offer sacrifices to him in his own nature; for this would be to adore ourselves. In every case therefore, it is only emanations of Brahm that we address.” Translating these ideas then into our own process of thought, we should call Brahm the pure unity of thought in itself – God in the incomplexity of his existence. No temples are consecrated to him, and he receives no worship. Similarly, in the Catholic religion, the churches are not dedicated to God, but to the saints. Other Englishmen, who have devoted themselves to investigating the conception of Brahm, have thought Brahm to be an unmeaning epithet, applied to all gods: so that Vishnu says, “I am Brahm”; and the Sun, the Air, the Seas are called Brahm. Brahm would on this supposition be substance in its simplicity, which by its very nature expands itself into the limitless variety of phenomenal diversities. For this abstraction, this pure unity, is that which lies at the foundation of All – the root of all definite existence. In the intellection of this unity, all objectivity falls away; for the purely Abstract is intellection itself in its greatest vacuity. To attain this Death of Life during life itself – to constitute this abstraction – requires the disappearance of all moral activity and volition, and of all intellection too, as in the Religion of Fo; and this is the object of the penances already spoken of.
The complement to the abstraction Brahm must then be looked for in the concrete complex of things; for the principle of the Hindoo religion is the Manifestation of Diversity (in “Avatars”). These then, fall outside that abstract Unity of Thought, and as that which deviates from it, constitute the variety found in the world of sense, the variety of intellectual conceptions in an unreflected sensuous form. In this way the concrete complex of material things is isolated from Spirit, and presented in wild distraction, except as re-absorbed in the pure ideality of Brahm. The other deities are therefore things of sense: Mountains, Streams, Beasts, the Sun, the Moon, the Ganges. The next stage is the concentration of this wild variety into substantial distinctions, and the comprehension of them as a series of divine persons. Vishnu, Siva, Mahâdeva are thus distinguished from Brahma. In the embodiment Vishnu are presented those incarnations in which God has appeared as man, and which are always historical personages, who effected important changes and new epochs. The power of procreation is likewise a substantial embodiment; and in the excavations, grottos and pagodas of the Hindoos, the Lingam is always found as symbolizing the male, and the Lotus the female vis procreandi. With this Duality – abstract unity on the one side and the abstract isolation of the world of sense on the other side – exactly corresponds the double form of Worship, in the relation of the human subjectivity to God. The one side of this duality of worship consists in the abstraction of pure self-elevation – the abrogation of real self-consiousness; a negativity which is consequently manifested, on the one hand, in the attainment of torpid unconsciousness – on the other hand in suicide and the extinction of all that is worth calling life, by self-inflicted tortures. The other side of worship consists in a wild tumult of excess; when all sense of individuality has vanished from consciousness by immersion in the merely natural; with which individuality thus makes itself identical – destroying its consciousness of distinction from Nature. In all the pagodas, therefore, prostitutes and dancing girls are kept, whom the Brahmins instruct most carefully in dancing, in beautiful postures and attractive gestures, and who have to comply with the wishes of all comers at a fixed price. Theological doctrine – relation of religion to morality – is here altogether out of the question. On the one hand Love – Heaven – in short everything spiritual – is conceived by the fancy of the Hindoo; but on the other hand his conceptions have an actual sensuous embodiment, and he immerses himself by a voluptuous intoxication in the merely natural. Objects of religious worship are thus either disgusting forms produced by art, or those presented by Nature. Every bird, every monkey, is a present god, an absolutely universal existence. The Hindoo is incapable of holding fast an object in his mind by means of rational predicates assigned to it, for this requires reflection. While a universal essence is wrongly transmuted into sensuous objectivity, the latter is also driven from its definite character into universality – a process whereby it loses its footing and is expanded to indefiniteness.
If we proceed to ask how far their religion exhibits the Morality of the Hindoos, the answer must be that the former is as distinct from the latter, as Brahm from the concrete existence of which he is the essence. To us, religion is the knowledge of that Being who is emphatically our Being, and therefore the substance of our knowledge and volition; the proper office of which latter is to be the mirror of this fundamental substance. But that requires this (Highest) Being to be in se a personality, pursuing divine aims, such as can become the purport of human action. Such an idea of a relation of the Being of God as constituting the universal basis or substance of human action – such a morality cannot be found among the Hindoos; for they have not the Spiritual as the import of their consciousness. On the one hand their virtue consists in the abstraction from all activity – the condition they call “Brahm.” On the other hand every action with them is a prescribed external usage; not free activity, the result of inward personality. Thus the moral condition of the Hindoos (as already observed) shows itself most abandoned. In this all Englishmen agree. Our judgment of the morality of the Hindoos is apt to be warped by representations of their mildness, tenderness, beautiful and sentimental fancy. But we must reflect that in nations utterly corrupt, there are sides of character which may be called tender and noble. We have Chinese poems in which the tenderest relations of love are depicted; in which delineations of deep emotion, humility, modesty, propriety are to be found; and which may be compared with the best that European literature contains. The same characteristics meet us in many Hindoo poems ; but rectitude, morality, freedom of soul, consciousness of individual right are quite another thing. The annihilating of spiritual and physical existence has nothing concrete in it; and absorption in the abstractly Universal has no connection with the real. Deceit and cunning are the fundamental characteristics of the Hindoo. Cheating, stealing, robbing, murdering are with him habitual. Humbly crouching and abject before a victor and lord, he is recklessly barbarous to the vanquished and subject.
Characteristic of the Hindoo’s humanity is the fact that he kills no brute animal, founds and supports rich hospitals for brutes, especially for old cows and monkeys – but that through the whole land, no single institution can be found for human beings who are diseased or infirm from age. The Hindoos will not tread upon ants, but they are perfectly indifferent when poor wanderers pine away with hunger. The Brahmins are especially immoral. According to English reports, they do nothing but eat and sleep. In what is not forbidden them by the rules of their order they follow natural impulses entirely. When they take any part in public life they show themselves avaricious, deceitful, voluptuous. With those whom they have reason to fear, they are humble enough; for which they avenge themselves on their dependents. “I do not know an honest man among them,” says an English authority. Children have no respect for their parents: sons maltreat their mothers.
It would lead us too far to give a detailed notice of Hindoo Art and Science. But we may make the general remark, that a more accurate acquaintance with its real value has not a little diminished the widely bruited fame of Indian Wisdom. According to the Hindoo principle of pure self-renouncing Ideality, and that (phenomenal) variety which goes to the opposite extreme of sensuousness, it is evident that nothing but abstract thought and imagination can be developed. Thus, e.g., their grammar has advanced to a high degree of consistent regularity ; but when substantial matter in sciences and works of art is in question, it is useless to look for it here. When the English had become masters of the country, the work of restoring to light the records of Indian culture was commenced, and William Jones first disinterred the poems of the Golden Age. The English exhibited plays at Calcutta: this led to a representation of dramas on the part of the Brahmins, e.g., the Sacontala of Calidasa, etc. In the enthusiasm of discovery the Hindoo culture was very highly rated; and as, when new beauties are discovered, the old ones are commonly looked down upon with contempt, Hindoo poetry and philosophy were extolled as far superior to the Greek. For our purpose the most important documents are the ancient and canonical books of the Hindoos, especially the Vedas. They comprise many divisions, of which the fourth is of more recent origin. They consist partly of religious prayers, partly of precepts to be observed. Some manuscripts of these Vedas have come to Europe, though in a complete form they are exceedingly rare. The writing is on palm leaves, scratched in with a needle. The Vedas are very difficult to understand, since they date from the most remote antiquity, and the language is a much older Sanscrit. Colebrooke has indeed translated a part, but this itself is perhaps taken from a commentary, of which there are very many.[10] Two great epic poems, Ramayana and Mahabharata, have also reached Europe. Three quarto volumes of the former have been printed, the second volume is extremely rare.[11] Besides these works, the Puranas must be particularly noticed. The Puranas contain the history of a god or of a temple. They are entirely fanciful. Another Hindoo classical book is the Code of Manu. This Hindoo lawgiver has been compared with the Cretan Minos – a name which also occurs among the Egyptians; and certainly this extensive occurrence of the same name is noteworthy and cannot be ascribed to chance. Manu’s code of morals, (published at Calcutta with an English translation by Sir W. Jones) forms the basis of Hindoo legislation. It begins with a Theogony, which is not only entirely different from the mythological conceptions of other peoples (as might be expected), but also deviates essentially from the Hindoo traditions themselves. For in these also there are only some leading features that pervade the whole. In other respects everything is abandoned to chance, caprice and fancy; the result of which is that the most multiform traditions, shapes and names, appear in never ending procession. The time when Manu’s code was composed, is also entirely unknown and undetermined. The traditions reach beyond twenty-three centuries before the birth of Christ: a dynasty of the Children of the Sun is mentioned, on which followed one of the Children of the Moon. Thus much, however, is certain, that the code in question is of high antiquity ; and an acquaintance with it is of the greatest importance to the English, as their knowledge of Hindoo Law is derived from it. After pointing out the Hindoo principle in the distinctions of caste, in religion and literature, we must also mention the mode and form of their political existence – the polity of the Hindoo State. – A State is a realization of Spirit, such that in it the self-conscious being of Spirit – the freedom of the Will – is realized as Law. Such an institution then, necessarily presupposes the consciousness of free will. In the Chinese State the moral will of the Emperor is the law: but so that subjective, inward freedom is thereby repressed, and the Law of Freedom governs individuals only as from without. In India the primary aspect of subjectivity – viz., that of the imagination – presents a union of the Natural and Spiritual, in which Nature on the one hand, does not present itself as a world embodying Reason, nor the Spiritual on the other hand, as consciousness in contrast with Nature. Here the antithesis in the (above-stated) principle is wanting. Freedom both as abstract will and as subjective freedom is absent. The proper basis of the State, the principle of freedom is altogether absent: there cannot therefore be any State in the true sense of the term. This is the first point to be observed: if China may be regarded as nothing else but a State, Hindoo political existence presents us with a people, but no State. Secondly, while we found a moral despotism in China, whatever may be called a relic of political life in India, is a despotism without a principle, without any rule of morality and religion: for morality and religion (as far as the latter has a reference to human action) have as their indispensable condition and basis the freedom of the Will. In India, therefore, the most arbitrary, wicked, degrading despotism has its full swing. China, Persia, Turkey – in fact Asia generally, is the scene of despotism, and, in a bad sense, of tyranny; but it is regarded as contrary to the due order of things, and is disapproved by religion and the moral consciousness of individuals. In those countries, tyranny rouses men to resentment; they detest it and groan under it as a burden. To them it is an accident and an irregularity, not a necessity: it ought not to exist. But in India it is normal: for here there is no sense of personal independence with which a state of despotism could be compared, and which would raise revolt in the soul; nothing approaching even a resentful protest against it, is left, except the corporeal smart, and the pain of being deprived of absolute necessaries and of pleasure.
In the case of such a people, therefore, that which we call in its double sense, History, is not to be looked for; and here the distinction between China and India is most clearly and strongly manifest. The Chinese possess a most minute history of their country, and it has been already remarked what arrangements are made in China for having everything accurately noted down in their annals. The contrary is the case in India. Though the recent discoveries of the treasures of Indian Literature have shown us what a reputation the Hindoos have acquired in Geometry, Astronomy, and Algebra – that they have made great advances in Philosophy, and that among them, Grammar has been so far cultivated that no language can be regarded as more fully developed than the Sanscrit – we find the department of History altogether neglected, or rather non-existent. For History requires Understanding – the power of looking at an object in an independent objective light, and comprehending it in its rational connection with other objects. Those peoples therefore are alone capable of History, and of prose generally, who have arrived at that period of development (and can make that their starting point) at which individuals comprehend their own existence as independent, i.e., possess self-consciousness.
The Chinese are to be rated at what they have made of themselves, looking at them in the entirety of their State. While they have thus attained an existence independent of Nature, they can also regard objects as distinct from themselves – as they are actually presented – in a definite form and in their real connection. The Hindoos on the contrary are by birth given over to an unyielding destiny, while at the same time their Spirit is exalted to Ideality; so that their minds exhibit the contradictory processes of a dissolution of fixed rational and definite conceptions in their Ideality, and on the other side, a degradation of this ideality to a multiformity of sensuous objects. This makes them incapable of writing History. All that happens is dissipated in their minds into confused dreams. What we call historical truth and veracity – intelligent, thoughtful comprehension of events, and fidelity in representing them – nothing of this sort can be looked for among the Hindoos. We may explain this deficiency partly from that excitement and debility of the nerves, which prevent them from retaining an object in their minds, and firmly comprehending it, for in their mode of apprehension, a sensitive and imaginative temperament changes it into a feverish dream; – partly from the fact, that veracity is the direct contrary to their nature. They even lie knowingly and designedly where misapprehension is out of the question. As the Hindoo Spirit is a state of dreaming and mental transiency – a self-oblivious dissolution – objects also dissolve for it into unreal images and indefinitude. This feature is absolutely characteristic; and this alone would furnish us with a clear idea of the Spirit of the Hindoos, from which all that has been said might be deduced. But History is always of great importance for a people; since by means of that it becomes conscious of the path of development taken by its own Spirit, which expresses itself in Laws, Manners, Customs, and Deeds. Laws, comprising morals and judicial institutions, are by nature the permanent element in a people’s existence. But History presents a people with their own image in a condition which thereby becomes objective to them. Without History their existence in time is blindly self-involved – the recurring play of arbitrary volition in manifold forms. History fixes and imparts consistency to this fortuitous current – gives it the form of Universality, and by so doing posits a directive and restrictive rule for it. It is an essential instrument in developing and determining the Constitution – that is, a rational political condition; for it is the empirical method of producing the Universal, inasmuch as it sets up a permanent object for the conceptive powers. – It is because the Hindoos have no History in the form of annals (historia) that they have no History in the form of transactions (res gestae); that is, no growth expanding into a veritable political condition. Periods of time are mentioned in the Hindoo Writings, and large numbers which have often an astronomical meaning, but which have still oftener a quite arbitrary origin. Thus it is related of certain Kings that they had reigned 70,000 years, or more. Brahma, the first figure in the Cosmogony, and self-produced, is said to have lived 20,000 years, etc. Innumerable names of Kings are cited – among them the incarnations of Vishnu. It would be ridiculous to regard passages of this kind as anything historical. In their poems Kings are often talked of: these may have been historical personages, but they completely vanish in fable; e.g., they retire from the world, and then appear again, after they have passed ten thousand years in solitude. The numbers in question, therefore, have not the value and rational meaning which we attach to them.
Consequently the oldest and most reliable sources of Indian History are the notices of Greek Authors, after Alexander the Great had opened the way to India. From them we learn that their institutions were the same at that early period as they are now: Santaracottus (Chandragupta) is marked out as a distinguished ruler in the northern part of India, to which the Bactrian kingdom extended. The Mahometan historians supply another source of information; for the Mahometans began their invasions as early as the tenth century. A Turkish slave was the ancestor of the Ghiznian race. His son Mahmoud made an inroad into Hindostan and conquered almost the whole country. He fixed his royal residence west of Cabul, and at his court lived the poet Ferdusi. The Ghiznian dynasty was soon entirely exterminated by the sweeping attacks of the Afghans and Moguls. In later times nearly the whole of India has been subjected to the Europeans. What therefore is known of Indian history, has for the most part been communicated through foreign channels: the native literature gives only indistinct data. Europeans assure us of the impossibility of wading through the morasses of Indian statements. More definite information may be obtained from inscriptions and documents, especially from the deeds of gifts of land to pagodas and divinities ; but this kind of evidence supplies names only. Another source of information is the astronomical literature, which is of high antiquity. Colebrooke thoroughly studied these writings ; though it is very difficult to procure manuscripts, since the Brahmins keep them very close; they are moreover disfigured by the grossest interpolations. It is found that the statements with regard to constellations are often contradictory, and that the Brahmins interpolate these ancient works with events belonging to their own time. The Hindoos do indeed possess lists and enumerations of their Kings, but these also are of the most capricious character; for we often find twenty Kings more in one list than in another; and should these lists even be correct, they could not constitute a history. The Brahmins have no conscience in respect to truth. Captain Wilford had procured manuscripts from all quarters with great trouble and expense; he assembled a considerable number of Brahmins, and commissioned them to make extracts from these works, and to institute inquiries respecting certain remarkable events – about Adam and Eve, the Deluge, etc. The Brahmins, to please their employer, produced statements of the kind required; but there was nothing of the sort in the manuscripts. Wilford wrote many treatises on the subject, till at last he detected the deception, and saw that he had labored in vain. The Hindoos have, it is true, a fixed Era: they reckon from Vicramâditya, at whose splendid court lived Calidasa, the author of the Sacontala. The most illustrious poets flourished about the same time. “There were nine pearls at the court of Vicramaditya,” say the Brahmins: but we cannot discover the date of this brilliant epoch. From various statements, the year 1491 B.C. has been contended for; others adopt the year 50 B.C., and this is the commonly received opinion. Bentley’s researches at length placed Vicramaditya in the twelfth century B.C. But still more recently it has been discovered that there were five, or even eight or nine kings of that name in India; so that on this point also we are thrown back into utter uncertainty.
When the Europeans became acquainted with India, they found a multitude of petty Kingdoms, at whose head were Mahometan and Indian princes. There was an order of things very nearly approaching feudal organization; and the Kingdoms in question were divided into districts, having as governors Mahometans, or people of the Warrior Caste of Hindoos. The business of these governors consisted in collecting taxes and carrying on wars; and they thus formed a kind of aristocracy, the Prince’s Council of State. But only as far as their princes are feared and excite fear, have they any power; and no obedience is rendered to them but by force. As long as the prince does not want money, he has troops; and neighboring princes, if they are inferior to him in force, are often obliged to pay taxes, but which are yielded only on compulsion. The whole state of things, therefore, is not that of repose, but of continual struggle; while moreover nothing is developed or furthered. It is the struggle of an energetic will on the part of this or that prince against a feebler one; the history of reigning dynasties, but not of peoples; a series of perpetually varying intrigues and revolts – not indeed of subjects against their rulers, but of a prince’s son, for instance, against his father; of brothers, uncles and nephews in contest with each other; and of functionaries against their master. It might be believed that, though the Europeans found such a state of things, this was the result of the dissolution of earlier superior organizations. It might, for instance, be supposed that the period of the Mogul supremacy was of one of prosperity and splendor, and of a political condition in which India was not distracted religiously and politically by foreign conquerors. But the historical traces and lineaments that accidentally present themselves in poetical descriptions and legends, bearing upon the period in question, always point to the same divided condition – the result of war and of the instability of political relations; while contrary representations may be easily recognized as a dream, a mere fancy. This state of things is the natural result of that conception of Hindoo life which has been exhibited, and the conditions which it necessitates. The wars of the sects of the Brahmins and Buddhists, of the devotees of Vishnu and of Siva, also contributed their quota to this confusion. – There is indeed, a common character pervading the whole of India; but its several states present at the same time the greatest variety; so that in one Indian State we meet with the greatest effeminacy – in another, on the contrary, we find prodigious vigor and savage barbarity. If then, in conclusion, we once more take a general view of the comparative condition of India and China, we shall see that China was characterized by a thoroughly unimaginative Understanding; a prosaic life amid firm and definite reality: while in the Indian world there is, so to speak, no object that can be regarded as real, and firmly defined – none that was not at its first apprehension perverted by the imagination to the very opposite of what it presents to an intelligent consciousness. In China it is the Moral which constitutes the substance of the laws, and which is embodied in external strictly determinate relations; while over all hovers the patriarchal providence of the Emperor, who like a Father, cares impartially for the interest of his subjects. Among the Hindoos, on the contrary – instead of this Unity – Diversity is the fundamental characteristic. Religion, War, Handicraft, Trade, yes, even the most trivial occupations are parcelled out with rigid separation – constituting as they do the import of the one will which they involve, and whose various requirements they exhaust. With this is bound up a monstrous, irrational imagination, which attaches the moral value and character of men to an infinity of outward actions as empty in point of intellect as of feeling; sets aside all respect for the welfare of man, and even makes a duty of the cruellest and severest contravention of it. Those distinctions being rigidly maintained, nothing remains for the one universal will of the State but pure caprice, against whose omnipotence only the fixed caste-distinctions avail for protection. The Chinese in their prosaic rationality, reverence as the Highest, only the abstract supreme lord; and they exhibit a contemptibly superstitious respect for the fixed and definite
Among the Hindoos there is no such superstition so far as it presents an antithesis to Understanding; rather their whole life and ideas are one unbroken superstition, because among them all is revery and consequent enslavement. Annihilation – the abandonment of all reason, morality and subjectivity – can only come to a positive feeling and consciousness of itself, by extravagating in a boundlessly wild imagination; in which, like a desolate spirit, it finds no rest, no settled composure, though it can content itself in no other way; as a man who is quite reduced in body and spirit finds his existence altogether stupid and intolerable, and is driven to the creation of a dream-world and a delirious bliss in Opium.




Section II. – (Continued). – India – Buddhism.[12]
It is time to quit the Dream-State characterizing the Hindoo Spirit revelling in the most extravagant maze through all natural and spiritual forms; comprising at the same time the coarsest sensuality and anticipations of the profoundest thought, and on that very account – as far as free and rational reality is concerned – sunk in the most self-abandoned, helpless slavery; – a slavery, in which the abstract forms into which concrete human life is divided, have become stereotyped, and human rights and culture have been made absolutely dependent upon these distinctions. In contrast with this inebriate Dream-life, which in the sphere of reality is bound fast in chains, we have the unconstrained Dream-life; which on the one hand is ruder than the former – as not having advanced so far as to make this distinction of modes of life – but for the same reason, has not sunk into the slavery which this entails. It keeps itself more free, more independently firm in itself: its world of ideas is consequently compressed into simpler conceptions. The Spirit of the Phase just indicated, is involved in the same fundamental principle as that assigned to Hindoo conceptions: but it is more concentrated in itself; its religion is simpler, and the accompanying political condition more calm and settled. This phase comprehends peoples and countries of the most varied complexion. We regard it as embracing Ceylon, Farther India with the Burman Empire, Siam, Anam – north of that Thibet, and further on the Chinese Upland with its various populations of Mongols and Tartars. We shall not examine the special individualities of these peoples, but merely characterize their Religion, which constitutes the most interesting side of their existence. The Religion of these peoples is Buddhism, which is the most widely extended religion on our globe. In China Buddha is reverenced as Fo; in Ceylon as Gautama; in Thibet and among the Mongols this religion has assumed the phase of Lamaism. In China – where the religion of Fo early received a great extension, and introduced a monastic life – it occupies the position of an integrant element of the Chinese principle. As the Substantial form of Spirit which characterizes China, develops itself only to a unity of secular national life, which degrades individuals to a position of constant dependence, religion also remains in a state of dependence. The element of freedom is wanting to it; for its object is the principle of Nature in general – Heaven – Universal Matter. But the (compensating) truth of this alienated form of Spirit (Nature occupying the place of the Absolute Spirit) is ideal Unity; the elevation above the limitation of Nature and of existence at large; – the return of consciousness into the soul. This element, which is contained in Buddhism, has made its way in China, to that extent to which the Chinese have become aware of the unspirituality of their condition, and the limitation that hampers their consciousness. – In this religion – which may be generally described as the religion of self-involvement (undeveloped Unity)[13] – the elevation of that unspiritual condition to subjectivity, takes place in two ways; one of which is of a negative, the other of an affirmative kind.
The negative form of this elevation is the concentration of Spirit to the Infinite, and must first present itself under theological conditions. It is contained in the fundamental dogma, that Nothingness is the principle of all things – that all proceeded from and returns to Nothingness. The various forms found in the World are only modifications of procession [thence]. If an analysis of these various forms were attempted, they would lose their quality; for in themselves all things are one and the same inseparable essence, and this essence is Nothingness. The connection of this with the Metempsychosis can be thus explained: All (that we see) is but a change of Form. The inherent infinity of Spirit – infinite concrete self-dependence – is entirely separate from this Universe of phenomena. Abstract Nothingness is properly that which lies beyond Finite Existence – what we may call the Supreme Being. This real principle of the Universe is, it is said, in eternal repose, and in itself unchangeable. Its essence consists in the absence of activity and volition. For Nothingness is abstract Unity with itself. To obtain happiness, therefore, man must seek to assimilate himself to this principle by continual victories over himself; and for the sake of this, do nothing, wish nothing, desire nothing. In this condition of happiness, therefore, Vice or Virtue is out of the question; for the true blessedness is Union with Nothingness. The more man frees himself from all speciality of existence, the nearer does he approach perfection; and in the annihilation of all activity – in pure passivity – he attains complete resemblance to Fo. The abstract Unity in question is not a mere Futurity – a Spiritual sphere existing beyond our own; it has to do with the present; it is truth for man [as he is], and ought to be realized in him. In Ceylon and the Burman Empire – where this Buddhistic Faith has its roots – there prevails an idea, that man can attain by meditation, to exemption from sickness, old age and death.
But while this is the negative form of the elevation of Spirit from immersion in the Objective to a subjective realization of itself, this Religion also advances to the consciousness of an affirmative form. Spirit is the Absolute. Yet in comprehending Spirit it is a point of essential importance in what determinate form Spirit is conceived. When we speak of Spirit as universal, we know that for us it exists only in an inward conception ; but to attain this point of view – to appreciate Spirit in the pure subjectivity of Thought and conception – is the result of a longer process of culture. At that point in history at which we have now arrived, the form of Spirit is not advanced beyond Immediateness (the idea of it is not yet refined by reflection and abstraction). God is conceived in an immediate, unreflected form; not in the form of Thought – objectively. But this immediate Form is that of humanity. The Sun, the Stars do not come up to the idea of Spirit; but Man seems to realize it; and he, as Buddha, Gautama, Fo – in the form of a departed teacher, and in the living form of the Grand Lama – receives divine worship. The Abstract Understanding generally objects to this idea of a Godman; alleging as a defect that the form here assigned to Spirit is an immediate [unreflected, unrefined] one – that in fact it is none other than Man in the concrete. Here the character of a whole people is bound up with the theological view just indicated. The Mongols – a race extending through the whole of central Asia as far as Siberia, where they are subject to the Russians – worship the Lama; and with this form of worship a simple political condition, a patriarchal life is closely united; for they are properly a Nomad people, and only occasionally are commotions excited among them, when they seem to be beside themselves, and eruptions and inundations of vast hordes are occasioned. Of the Lamas there are three: the best known is the Dalai-Lama, who has his seat at Lassa in the kingdom of Thibet. A second is the Teshoo-Lama, who under the title of Bantshen Rinbot-shee resides at Teshoo-Lomboo; there is also a third in Southern Siberia. The first two Lamas preside over two distinct sects, of which the priests of one wear yellow caps, those of the other, red. The wearers of the yellow caps – at whose head is the Dalai-Lama, and among whose adherents is the Emperor of China – have introduced celibacy among the priests, while the red sect allow their marriage. The English have become considerably acquainted with the Teshoo-Lama and have given us descriptions of him.
The general form which the spirit of the Lamaistic development of Buddhism assumes, is that of a living human being; while in the original Buddhism it is a deceased person. The two hold in common the relationship to a man. The idea of a man being worshipped as God – especially a living man – has in it something paradoxical and revolting; but the following considerations must be examined before we pronounce judgment respecting it. The conception of Spirit involves its being regarded as inherently, intrinsically, universal. This condition must be particularly observed, and it must be discovered how in the systems adopted by various peoples this universality is kept in view. It is not the individuality of the subject that is revered, but that which is universal in him; and which among the Thibetans, Hindoos, and Asiatics generally, is regarded as the essence pervading all things. This substantial Unity of Spirit is realized in the Lama, who is nothing but the form in which Spirit manifests itself; and who does not hold this Spiritual Essence as his peculiar property, but is regarded as partaking in it only in order to exhibit it to others, that they may attain a conception of Spirituality and be led to piety and blessedness. The Lama’s personality as such – his particular individuality – is therefore subordinate to that substantial essence which it embodies. The second point which constitutes an essential feature in the conception of the Lama is the disconnection from Nature. The Imperial dignity of China involved [as we saw] a supremacy over the powers of Nature; while here spiritual power is directly separated from the vis Natures. The idea never crosses the minds of the Lama-worshippers to desire of the Lama to show himself Lord of Nature – to exercise magical and miraculous power; for from the being they call God, they look only for spiritual activity and the bestowal of spiritual benefits. Buddha has moreover the express names “Saviour of Souls” – “Sea of Virtue” – “ the Great Teacher.” Those who have become acquainted with the Teshoo-Lama depict him as a most excellent person, of the calmest temper and most devoted to meditation. Thus also do the Lama-worshippers regard him. They see in him a man constantly occupied with religion, and who when he directs his attention to what is human, does so only to impart consolation and encouragement by his blessing, and by the exercise of mercy and the bestowal of forgiveness. These Lamas lead a thoroughly isolated life and have a feminine rather than masculine training. Early torn from the arms of his parents the Lama is generally a well- formed and beautiful child. He is brought up amid perfect quiet and solitude, in a kind of prison: he is well catered for, and remains without exercise or childish play, so that it is not surprising that a feminine susceptible tendency prevails in his character. The Grand Lamas have under them inferior Lamas as presidents of the great fraternities. In Thibet every father who has four sons is obliged to dedicate one to a conventual life. The Mongols, who are especially devoted to Lamaism – this modification of Buddhism – have great respect for all that possesses life. They live chiefly on vegetables, and revolt from killing any animal, even a louse. This worship of the Lamas has supplanted Shamanism, that is, the religion of Sorcery. The Shamans – priests of this religion – intoxicate themselves with strong drinks and dancing, and while in this state perform their incantations, fall exhausted on the ground, and utter words which pass for oracular. Since Buddhism and Lamaism have taken the place of the Shaman Religion, the life of the Mongols has been simple, prescriptive and patriarchal. Where they take any part in History, we find them occasioning impulses that have only been the groundwork of historical development. Thera is therefore little to be said about the political administration of the Lamas. A Vizier has charge of the secular dominion and reports everything to the Lama: the government is simple and lenient; and the veneration which the Mongols pay to the Lama, expresses itself chiefly in their asking counsel of him in political affairs.



Section III: Persia.
Asia separates itself into two parts – Hither and Farther Asia; which are essentially different from each other. While the Chinese and Hindoos – the two great nations of Farther Asia, already considered – belong to the strictly Asiatic, namely the Mongolian Race, and consequently possess a quite peculiar character, discrepant from ours; the nations of Hither Asia belong to the Caucasian, i.e. the European Stock. They are related to the West, while the Farther- Asiatic peoples are perfectly isolated. The European who goes from Persia to India, observes, therefore, a prodigious contrast. Whereas in the former country he finds himself still somewhat at home, and meets with European dispositions, human virtues and human passions – as soon as he crosses the Indus (i.e., in the latter region), he encounters the most repellent characteristics, pervading every single feature of society.
With the Persian Empire we first enter on continuous History. The Persians are the first Historical People; Persia was the first Empire that passed away. While China and India remain stationary, and perpetuate a natural vegetative existence even to the present time, this land has been subject to those developments and revolutions, which alone manifest a historical condition. The Chinese and the Indian Empire assert a place in the historical series only on their own account and for us (not for neighbors and successors). But here in Persia first arises that light which shines itself, and illuminates what is around; for Zoroaster’s “Light” belongs to the World of Consciousness – to Spirit as a relation to something distinct from itself. We see in the Persian World a pure exalted Unity, as the essence which leaves the special existences that inhere in it, free; – as the Light, which only manifests what bodies are in themselves; – a Unity which governs individuals only to excite them to become powerful for themselves – to develop and assert their individuality. Light makes no distinctions: the Sun shines on the righteous and the unrighteous, on high and low, and confers on all the same benefit and prosperity. Light is vitalizing only in so far as it is brought to bear on something distinct from itself, operating upon and developing that. It holds a position of antithesis to Darkness, and this antithetical relation opens out to us the principle of activity and life. The principle of development begins with the history of Persia. This therefore constitutes strictly the beginning of World-History; for the grand interest of Spirit in History, is to attain an unlimited immanence of subjectivity – by an absolute antithesis to attain complete harmony.[14]
Thus the transition which we have to make, is only in the sphere of the Idea, not in the external historical connection. The principle of this transition is that the Universal Essence, which we recognized in Brahm, now becomes perceptible to consciousness – becomes an object and acquires a positive import for man. Brahm is not worshipped by the Hindoos: he is nothing more than a condition of the Individual, a religious feeling, a non-objective existence – a relation, which for concrete vitality is that of annihilation. But in becoming objective, this Universal Essence acquires a positive nature: man becomes free, and thus occupies a position face to face as it were with the Highest Being, the latter being made objective for him. This form of Universality we see exhibited in Persia, involving a separation of man from the Universal essence; while at the same time the individual recognizes himself as identical with [a partaker in], that essence. In the Chinese and Indian principle, this distinction was not made. We found only a unit of the Spiritual and the Natural. But Spirit still involved in Nature has to solve the problem of freeing itself from the latter. Rights and Duties in India are intimately connected with special classes, and are therefore only peculiarities attaching to man by the arrangement of Nature. In China this unity presents itself under the conditions of paternal government. Man is not free there; he possesses no moral element, since he is identical with the external command [obedience is purely natural, as in the filial relation – not the result of reflection and principle]. In the Persian principle, Unity first elevates itself to the distinction from the merely natural; we have the negation of that unreflecting relation which allowed no exercise of mind to intervene between the mandate and its adoption by the will. In the Persian principle this unity is manifested as Light, which in this case is not simply light as such, the most universal physical element, but at the same time also spiritual purity – the Good. Speciality – the involvement with limited Nature – is consequently abolished. Light, in a physical and spiritual sense, imports, therefore, elevation – freedom from the merely natural. Man sustains a relation to Light – to the Abstract Good – as to something objective, which is acknowledged, reverenced, and evoked to activity by his Will. If we look back once more – and we cannot do so too frequently – on the phases which we have traversed in arriving at this point, we perceive in China the totality of a moral Whole, but excluding subjectivity; – this totality divided into members, but without independence in its various portions. We found only an external arrangement of this political Unity. In India, on the contrary, distinctions made themselves prominent; but the principle of separation was unspiritual. We found incipient subjectivity, but hampered with the condition, that the separation in question is insurmountable; and that Spirit remains involved in the limitations of Nature, and is therefore a self-contradiction. Above this purity of Castes is that purity of Light which we observe in Persia; that Abstract Good, to which all are equally able to approach, and in which all equally may be hallowed. The Unity recognized therefore, now first becomes a principle, not an external bond of soulless order. The fact that everyone has a share in that principle, secures to him personal dignity.
First as to Geographical position, we see China and India, exhibiting as it were the dull half- conscious brooding of Spirit, in fruitful plains – distinct from which is the lofty girdle of mountains with the wandering hordes that occupy them. The inhabitants of the heights, in their conquest, did not change the spirit of the plains, but imbibed it themselves. But in Persia the two principles – retaining their diversity – became united, and the mountain peoples with their principle became the predominant element. The two chief divisions which we have to mention are: – the Persian Upland itself, and the Valley Plains, which are reduced under the dominion of the inhabitants of the Uplands. That elevated territory is bounded on the east by the Soliman mountains, which are continued in a northerly direction by the Hindoo Koosh and Belur Tag. The latter separate the anterior region – Bactriana and Sogdiana, occupying the plains of the Oxus – from the Chinese Upland, which extends as far as Cashgar. That plain of the Oxus itself lies to the north of the Persian Upland, which declines on the south towards the Persian Gulf. This is the geographical position of Iran. On its western declivity lies Persia (Farsistan); higher to the north, Kourdistan – beyond this Armenia. Thence extend in a southwesterly direction the river districts of the Tigris and the Euphrates. – The elements of the Persian Empire are the Zend race – the old Parsees; next the Assyrian, Median and Babylonian Empire in the region mentioned; but the Persian Empire also includes Asia Minor, Egypt, and Syria, with its line of coast; and thus combines the Upland, the Valley Plains and the Coast region.




Chapter I. – The Zend People
The Zend People derived their name from the language in which the Zend Books are written, i.e., the canonical books on which the religion of the ancient Parsees is founded. Of this religion of the Parsees or Fire-worshippers, there are still traces extant. There is a colony of them in Bombay; and on the Caspian Sea there are some scattered families that have retained this form of worship. Their national existence was put an end to by the Mahometans. The great Zerdusht – called Zoroaster by the Greeks – wrote his religious books in the Zend language. Until nearly the last third of the eighteenth century, this language and all the writings composed in it, were entirely unknown to Europeans; when at length the celebrated Frenchman, Anquetil- Duperron, disclosed to us these rich treasures. Filled with an enthusiasm for the Oriental World, which his poverty did not allow him to gratify, he enlisted in a French corps that was about to sail for India. He thus reached Bombay, where he met with the Parsees, and entered on the study of their religious ideas. With indescribable difficulty he succeeded in obtaining their religious books; making his way into their literature, and thus opening an entirely new and wide field of research, but which, owing to his imperfect acquaintance with the language, still awaits thorough investigation.
Where the Zend people, mentioned in the religious books of Zoroaster, lived, is difficult to determine. In Media and Persia the religion of Zoroaster prevailed, and Xenophon relates that Cyrus adopted it: but none of these countries was the proper habitat of the Zend people. Zoroaster himself calls it the pure Aryan: we find a similar name in Herodotus, for he says that the Medes were formerly called Arii – a name with which the designation Iran is connected. South of the Oxus runs a mountain chain in the ancient Bactriana – with which the elevated plains commence, that were inhabited by the Medes, the Parthians, and the Hyrcanians. In the district watered by the Oxus at the commencement of its course, Bactra – probably the modern Balk – is said to have been situated; from which Cabul and Cashmere are distant only about eight days’ journey. Here in Bactriana appears to have been the seat of the Zend people. In the time of Cyrus we find the pure and original faith, and the ancient political and social relations such as they are described in the Zend books, no longer perfect. Thus much appears certain, that the Zend language, which is connected with the Sanscrit, was the language of the Persians, Medes, and Bactrians. The laws and institutions of the people bear an evident stamp of great simplicity. Four classes are mentioned : Priests, Warriors, Agriculturists, and Craftsmen. Trade only is not noticed; from which it would appear that the people still remained in an isolated condition. Governors of Districts, Towns, and Roads, are mentioned; so that all points to the social phase of society – the political not being yet developed; and nothing indicates a connection with other states. It is essential to note, that we find here no Castes, but only Classes, and that there are no restrictions on marriage between these different Classes; though the Zend writings announce civil laws and penalties, together with religious enactments.
The chief point – that which especially concerns us here – is the doctrine of Zoroaster. In contrast with the wretched hebetude of Spirit which we find among the Hindoos, a pure ether – an exhalation of Spirit – meets us in the Persian conception. In it, Spirit emerges from that substantial Unity of Nature, that substantial destitution of import, in which a separation has not yet taken place – in which Spirit has not yet an independent existence in contraposition to its object. This people, namely, attained to the consciousness, that absolute Truth must have the form of Universality – of Unity. This Universal, Eternal, Infinite Essence is not recognized at first, as conditioned in any way; it is Unlimited Identity. This is properly (and we have already frequently repeated it) also the character of Brahm. But this Universal Being became objective, and their Spirit became the consciousness of this its Essence; while on the contrary among the Hindoos this objectivity is only the natural one of the Brahmins, and is recognized as pure Universality only in the destruction of consciousness. Among the Persians this negative assertion has become a positive one; and man has a relation to Universal Being of such a kind that he remains positive in sustaining it. This One, Universal Being, is indeed not yet recognized as the free Unity of Thought; not yet “worshipped in Spirit and in Truth”; but is still clothed with a form – that of Light. But Light is not a Lama, a Brahmin, a Mountain, a brute – this or that particular existence – but sensuous Universality itself; simple manifestation. The Persian Religion is therefore no idol-worship ; it does not adore individual natural objects, but the Universal itself. Light admits, moreover, the signification of the Spiritual; it is the form of the Good and True – the substantiality of knowledge and volition as well as of all natural things. Light puts man in a position to be able to exercise choice; and he can only choose when he has emerged from that which had absorbed him. But Light directly involves an Opposite, namely, Darkness; just as Evil is the antithesis of Good. As man could not appreciate Good, if Evil were not; and as he can be really good only when he has become acquainted with the contrary, so the Light does not exist without Darkness. Among the Persians, Ormuzd and Ahriman present the antithesis in question. Ormuzd is the Lord of the kingdom of Light – of Good; Ahriman that of Darkness – of Evil. But there is a still higher being from whom both proceeded – a Universal Being not affected by this antithesis, called Zeruane-Akerene – the Unlimited All. The All, i.e., is something abstract; it does not exist for itself, and Ormuzd and Ahriman have arisen from it. This Dualism is commonly brought as a reproach against Oriental thought; and, as far as the contradiction is regarded as absolute, that is certainly an irreligious understanding which remains satisfied with it. But the very nature of Spirit demands antithesis; the principle of Dualism belongs therefore to the idea of Spirit, which, in its concrete form, essentially involves distinction. Among the Persians, Purity and Impurity have both become subjects of consciousness; and Spirit, in order to comprehend itself, must of necessity place the Special and Negative existence in contrast with the Universal and Positive. Only by overcoming this antithesis is Spirit twice-born – regenerated. The deficiency in the Persian principle is only that the Unity of the antithesis is not completely recognized; for in that indefinite conception of the Uncreated All, whence Ormuzd and Ahriman proceeded, the Unity is only the absolutely Primal existence, and does not reduce the contradictory elements to harmony in itself. Ormuzd creates of his own free will; but also according to the decree of Zeruane-Akerene (the representation wavers) ; and the harmonizing of the contradiction is only to be found in the contest which Ormuzd carries on with Ahriman, and in which he will at last conquer. Ormuzd is the Lord of Light, and he creates all that is beautiful and noble in the World, which is a Kingdom of the Sun. He is the excellent, the good, the positive in all natural and spiritual existence. Light is the body of Ormusd; thence the worship of Fire, because Ormuzd is present in all Light; but he is not the Sun or Moon itself. In these the Persians venerate only the Light, which is Ormuzd. Zoroaster asks Ormuzd who he is? He answers: “My Name is the ground and centre of all existence – Highest Wisdom and Science – Destroyer of the Ills of the World, and maintainer of the Universe – Fulness of Blessedness – Pure Will,” etc. That which comes from Ormuzd is living, independent, and lasting. Language testifies to his power; prayers are his productions. Darkness is on the contrary the body of Ahriman; but a perpetual fire banishes him from the temples. The chief end of every man’s existence is to keep himself pure, and to spread this purity around him. The precepts that have this in view are very diffuse; the moral requirements are however characterized by mildness. It is said: if a man loads you with revilings, and insults, but subsequently humbles himself, call him your friend. We read in the Vendidad, that sacrifices consist chiefly of the flesh of clean animals, flowers and fruits, milk and perfumes. It is said there, “As man was created pure and worthy of Heaven, he becomes pure again through the law of the servants of Ormuzd, which is purity itself; if he purifies himself by sanctity of thought, word, and deed. What is ‘Pure Thought’? That which ascends to the beginning of things. What is ‘ Pure Word ‘? The Word of Ormuzd (the Word is thus personified and imports the living Spirit of the whole revelation of Ormuzd). What is ‘Pure Deed’? The humble adoration of the Heavenly Hosts, created at the beginning of things.” It is implied in this that man should be virtuous: his own will, his subjective freedom is presupposed. Ormuzd is not limited to particular forms of existence. Sun, Moon, and five other stars, which seem to indicate the planets – those illuminating and illuminated bodies – are the primary symbols of Ormuzd; the Ainshaspand, his first sons. Among these, Mitra is also named: but we are at a loss to fix upon the star which this name denotes, as we are also in reference to the others. The Mitra is placed in the Zend Books among the other stars; yet in the penal code moral transgressions are called “Mitrasins” – e.g., breach of promise, entailing 300 lashes; to which in the case of theft, 300 years of punishment in Hell are to be added. Mitra appears here as the presiding genius of man’s inward higher life. Later on, great importance is assigned to Mitra as the mediator between Ormuzd and men. Even Herodotus mentions the adoration of Mitra. In Rome, at a later date, it became very prevalent as a secret worship; and we find traces of it even far into the middle ages. Besides those noticed there are other protecting genii, which rank under the Amshaspand, their superiors; and are the governors and preservers of the world. The council of the seven great men whom the Persian Monarch had about him was likewise instituted in imitation of the court of Ormuzd. The Fervers – a kind of Spirit-World – are distinguished from the creatures of the mundane sphere. The Fervers are not Spirits according to our idea, for they exist in every natural object, whether fire, water, or earth. Their existence is coeval with the origin of things; they are in all places, in highroads, towns, etc., and are prepared to give help to supplicants. Their abode is in Gorodman, the dwelling of the “Blessed,” above the solid vault of heaven. As Son of Ormuzd we find the name Dshemshid: apparently the same as he whom the Greeks call Achsemenes, whose descendants are called Pishdadians – a race to which Cyrus was reported to belong. Even at a later period the Persians seem to have had the designation Achaemenians among the Romans. (Horace, Odes III. i. 44.) Dshemshid, it is said, pierced the earth with a golden dagger; which means nothing more than that he introduced agriculture. He is said then to have traversed the various countries, originated springs and rivers, and thereby fertilized certain tracts of land, and made the valleys teem with living beings, etc. In the Zendavesta, the name Gustasp is also frequently mentioned, which many recent investigators have been inclined to connect with Darius Hystaspes; an idea however that cannot be entertained for a moment, for this Gustasp doubtless belongs to the ancient Zend Race – to a period therefore antecedent to Cyrus. Mention is made in the Zend books of the Turanians also, i.e., the Nomade tribes of the north; though nothing historical can be thence deduced.
The ritual observances of the religion of Ormuzd import that men should conduct themselves in harmony with the Kingdom of Light. The great general commandment is therefore, as already said, spiritual and corporeal purity, consisting in many prayers to Ormuzd. It was made specially obligatory upon the Persians, to maintain living existences – to plant trees – to dig wells – to fertilize deserts; in order that Life, the Positive, the Pure might be furthered, and the dominion of Ormuzd be universally extended. External purity is contravened by touching a dead animal, and there are many directions for being purified from such pollution. Herodotus relates of Cyrus, that when he went against Babylon, and the river Gyndes engulfed one of the horses of the Chariot of the Sun, he was occupied for a year in punishing it, by diverting its stream into small canals, to deprive it of its power. Thus Xerxes, when the sea broke in pieces his bridges, had chains laid upon it as the wicked and pernicious being – Ahriman.



Chapter II. – The Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, and Persians.
As the Zend Race was the higher spiritual element of the Persian Empire, so in Assyria and Babylonia we have the element of external wealth, luxury and commerce. Traditions respecting them ascend to the remotest periods of History; but in themselves they are obscure, and partly contradictory; and this contradiction is the less easy to be cleared up, as they have no canonical books or indigenous works. The Greek historian Ctesias is said to have had direct access to the archives of the Persian Kings; yet we have only a few fragments remaining. Herodotus gives us much information; the accounts in the Bible are also valuable and remarkable in the highest degree, for the Hebrews were immediately connected with the Babylonians. In regard to the Persians, special mention must be made of the Epic, “Shah-nameh,” by Ferdusi – a heroic poem in 60,000 strophes, from which Gorres has given a copious extract. Ferdusi lived at the beginning of the eleventh century A.D. at the court of Mahmoud the Great, at Ghasna, east of Cabul and Candahar. The celebrated Epic just mentioned has the old heroic traditions of Iran (that is of West Persia proper) for its subject; but it has not the value of a historical authority, since its contents are poetical and its author a Mahometan. The contest of Iran and Turan is described in this heroic poem. Iran is Persia Proper – the Mountain Land on the south of the Oxus; Turan denotes the plains of the Oxus and those lying between it and the ancient Jaxartes. A hero, Rustan, plays the principal part in the poem; but its narrations are either altogether fabulous, or quite distorted. Mention is made of Alexander, and he is called Ishkander or Skander of Roum. Roum means the Turkish Empire (even now one of its provinces is called Roumelia), but it denotes also the Roman; and in the poem Alexander’s Empire has equally the appellation Roum. Confusions of this kind are quite of a piece with the Mahometan views. It is related in the poem, that the King of Iran made war on Philip, and that this latter was beaten. The King then demanded Philip’s daughter as a wife; but after he had lived a long time with her, he sent her away because her breath was disagreeable. On returning to her father, she gave birth to a son – Skander, who hastened to Iran to take possession of the throne after the death of his father. Add to the above that in the whole of the poem no personage or narrative occurs that can be connected with Cyrus, and we have sufficient data for estimating its historical value. It has a value for us, however, so far as Ferdusi therein exhibits the spirit of his time, and the character and interest of Modern Persian views.
As regards Assyria, we must observe, that it is a rather indeterminate designation. Assyria Proper is a part of Mesopotamia, to the north of Babylon. As chief towns of this Empire are mentioned, Atur or Assur on the Tigris, and of later origin Nineveh, said to have been founded and built by Ninus, the Founder of the Assyrian Empire. In those times one City constituted the whole Empire – Nineveh for example: so also Ecbatana in Media, which is said to have had seven walls, between whose inclosures agriculture was carried on; and within whose innermost wall was the palace of the ruler. Thus too, Nineveh, according to Diodorus, was 480 Stadia (about 12 German miles – 55 English) in circumference. On the walls, which were 100 feet high, were fifteen hundred towers, within which a vast mass of people resided. Babylon included an equally immense population. These cities arose in consequence of a twofold necessity – on the one hand that of giving up the nomad life and pursuing agriculture, handicrafts and trade in a fixed abode; and on the other hand of gaining protection against the roving mountain peoples, and the predatory Arabs. Older traditions indicate that this entire valley district was traversed by Nomads, and that this mode of life gave way before that of the cities. Thus Abraham wandered forth with his family from Mesopotamia westwards, into mountainous Palestine. Even at this day the country round Bagdad is thus infested by roving Nomads. Nineveh is said to have been built 2050 years before Christ; consequently the founding of the Assyrian Kingdom is of no later date. Ninus reduced under his sway also Babylonia, Media and Bactriana; the conquest of which latter country is particularly extolled as having displayed the greatest energy; for Ctesias reckons the number of troops that accompanied Ninus, at 1,700,000 infantry and a proportionate number of cavalry. Bactra was besieged for a very considerable time, and its conquest is ascribed to Semiramis; who with a valiant host is said to have ascended the steep acclivity of a mountain. The personality of Semiramis wavers between mythological and historical representations. To her is ascribed the building of the Tower of Babel, respecting which we have in the Bible one of the oldest of traditions. – Babylon lay to the south, on the Euphrates, in a plain of great fertility and well adapted for agriculture. On the Euphrates and the Tigris there was considerable navigation. Vessels came partly from Armenia, partly from the South, to Babylon, and conveyed thither an immense amount of material wealth. The land round Babylon was intersected by innumerable canals; more for purposes of agriculture – to irrigate the soil and to obviate inundations – than for navigation. The magnificent buildings of Semiramis in Babylon itself are celebrated; though how much of the city is to be ascribed to the more ancient period, is undetermined and uncertain. It is said that Babylon formed a square, bisected by the Euphrates. On one side of the stream was the temple of Bel, on the other the great palaces of the monarchs. The city is reputed to have had a hundred brazen (i.e. copper) gates, its walls being a hundred feet high, and thick in proportion, defended by two hundred and fifty towers. The thoroughfares in the city which led towards the river were closed every night by brazen doors. Ker Porter, an Englishman, about twelve years ago (his whole tour occupied from 1817 to 1820) traversed the countries where ancient Babylon lay: on an elevation he thought he could discover remains still existing of the old tower of Babel; and supposed that he had found traces of the numerous roads that wound around the tower, and in whose loftiest story the image of Bel was set up. There are besides many hills with remains of ancient structures. The bricks correspond with the description in the Biblical record of the building of the tower. A vast plain is covered by an innumerable multitude of such bricks, although for many thousand years the practice of removing them has been continued ; and the entire town of Hila, which lies in the vicinity of the ancient Babylon, has been built with them. Herodotus relates some remarkable facts in the customs of the Babylonians, which appear to show that they were people living peaceably and neighborly with each other. When anyone in Babylon fell ill, he was brought to some open place, that every passerby might have the opportunity of giving him his advice. Marriageable daughters were disposed of by auction, and the high price offered for a belle was allotted as a dowry for her plainer neighbor. Such an arrangement was not deemed inconsistent with the obligation under which every woman lay of prostituting herself once in her life in the temple of Mylitta. It is difficult to discover what connection this had with their religious ideas. This excepted, according to Herodotus’s account, immorality invaded Babylon only at a later period, when the people became poorer. The fact that the fairer portion of the sex furnished dowries for their less attractive sisters, seems to confirm his testimony so far as it shows a provident care for all; while that bringing of the sick into the public places indicates a certain neighborly feeling. We must here mention the Medes also. They were, like the Persians, a mountain-people, whose habitations were south and southwest of the Caspian Sea and stretched as far as Armenia. Among these Medes the Magi are also noticed as one of the six tribes that formed the Median people, whose chief characteristics were fierceness, barbarism, and warlike courage. The capital Ecbatana was built by Dejoces, not earlier. He is said to have united under his kingly rule the tribes of the Medes; after they had made themselves free a second time from Assyrian supremacy, and to have induced them to build and to fortify for him a palace befitting his dignity. As to the religion of the Medes, the Greeks call all the oriental Priests, Magi, which is therefore a perfectly indefinite name. But all the data point to the fact that among the Magi we may look for a comparatively close connection with the Zend religion; but that, although the Magi preserved and extended it, it experienced great modifications in transmission to the various peoples who adopted it. Xenophon says, that Cyrus was the first that sacrificed to God according to the fashion of the Magi. The Medes therefore acted as a medium for propagating the Zend Religion.
The Assyrian-Babylonian Empire, which held so many peoples in subjection, is said to have existed for one thousand or fifteen hundred years. The last ruler was Sardanapaltis – a great voluptuary, according to the descriptions we have of him. Arbaces, the Satrap of Media, excited the other satraps against him; and in combination with them, led the troops which assembled every year at Nineveh to pay the tribute, against Sardanapalus. The latter, although he had gained many victories, was at last compelled to yield before overwhelming force, and to shut himself up in Nineveh; and, when he could not longer offer resistance, to burn himself there with all his treasure. According to some chronologists, this took place 888 years B.C. ; according to others, at the end of the seventh century. After this catastrophe the empire was entirely broken up: it was divided into an Assyrian, a Median, and a Babylonian Empire, to which also belonged the Chaldeans – a mountain people from the north which had united with the Babylonians. These several Empires had in their turn various fortunes; though here we meet with a confusion in the accounts which has never been cleared up. Within this period of their existence begins their connection with the Jews and Egyptians. The Jewish people succumbed to superior force; the Jews were carried captive to Babylon, and from them we have accurate information respecting the condition of this Empire. According to Daniel’s statements there existed in Babylon a carefully appointed organization for government business. He speaks of Magians – from whom the expounders of sacred writings, the soothsayers, astrologers, Wise Men and Chaldeans who interpreted dreams, are distinguished. The Prophets generally say much of the great commerce of Babylon; but they also draw a terrible picture of the prevailing depravity of manners.
The real culmination of the Persian Empire is to be looked for in connection with the Persian people properly so called, which, embracing in its rule all Anterior Asia, came into contact with the Greeks. The Persians are found in extremely close and early connection with the Medes; and the transmission of the sovereignty to the Persians makes no essential difference ; for Cyrus was himself a relation of the Median King, and the names of Persia and Media melt into one. At the head of the Persians and Medes, Cyrus made war upon Lydia and its king Croesus. Herodotus relates that there had been wars before that time between Lydia and Media, but which had been settled by the intervention of the King of Babylon. We recognize here a system of States, consisting of Lydia, Media, and Babylon. The latter had become predominant and had extended its dominion to the Mediterranean Sea. Lydia stretched eastward as far as the Halys; and the border of the western coast of Asia Minor, the fair Greek colonies, were subject to it; a high degree of culture was thus already present in the Lydian Empire. Art and poetry were blooming there as cultivated by the Greeks. These colonies also were subjected to Persia. Wise men, such as Bias, and still earlier, Thales, advised them to unite themselves in a firm league, or to quit their cities and possessions, and to seek out for themselves other habitations; (Bias meant Sardinia). But such a union could not be realized among cities which were animated by the bitterest jealousy of each other, and who lived in continual quarrel: while in the intoxication of affluence they were not capable of forming the heroic resolve to leave their homes for the sake of freedom. Only when they were on the very point of being subjugated by the Persians, did some cities give up certain for prospective possessions, in their aspiration after the highest good – Liberty. Herodotus says of the war against the Lydians, that it made the Persians who were previously poor and barbarous, acquainted for the first time with the luxuries of life and civilization. After the Lydian conquest Cyrus subjugated Babylon. With it he came into possession of Syria and Palestine; freed the Jews from captivity, and allowed them to rebuild their temple. Lastly, he led an expedition against the Massagetae; engaged with them in the steppes between the Oxus and the Jaxartes, but sustained a defeat, and died the death of a warrior and conqueror. The death of heroes who have formed an epoch in the History of the World, is stamped with the character of their mission. Cyrus thus died in his mission, which was the union of Anterior Asia into one sovereignty without an ulterior object.



Chapter III. – The Persian Empire and its Constituent Parts.
The Persian Empire is an Empire in the modern sense – like that which existed in Germany, and the great imperial realm under the sway of Napoleon; for we find it consisting of a number of states, which are indeed dependent, but which have retained their own individuality, their manners, and laws. The general enactments, binding upon all, did not infringe upon their political and social idiosyncrasies, but even protected and maintained them; so that each of the nations that constitute the whole, had its own form of Constitution. As Light illuminates everything – imparting to each object a peculiar vitality – so the Persian Empire extends over a multitude of nations, and leaves to each one its particular character. Some have even kings of their own; each one its distinct language, arms, way of life, and customs. All this diversity coexists harmoniously under the impartial dominion of Light. The Persian Empire comprehends all the three geographical elements, which we classified as distinct. First, the Uplands of Persia and Media; next, the Valley-plains of the Euphrates and Tigris, whose inhabitants are found united in a developed form of civilization, with Egypt – the Valley-plain of the Nile – where agriculture, industrial arts and sciences flourished; and lastly a third element, viz. the nations who encounter the perils of the sea – the Syrians, the Phoenicians, the inhabitants of the Greek colonies and Greek Maritime States in Asia Minor. Persia thus united in itself the three natural principles, while China and India remained foreign to the sea. We find here neither that consolidated totality which China presents, nor that Hindoo life, in which an anarchy of caprice is prevalent everywhere. In Persia, the government, though joining all in a central unity, is but a combination of peoples – leaving each of them free. Thereby a stop is put to that barbarism and ferocity with which the nations had been wont to carry on their destructive feuds, and which the Book of Kings and the Book of Samuel sufficiently attest. The lamentations of the Prophets and their imprecations upon the state of things before the conquest, show the misery, wickedness and disorder that prevailed among them, and the happiness which Cyrus diffused over the region of Anterior Asia. It was not given to the Asiatics to unite self-dependence, freedom and substantial vigor of mind, with culture, i.e., an interest for diverse pursuits and an acquaintance with the conveniences of life. Military valor among them is consistent only with barbarity of manners. It is not the calm courage of order; and when their mind opens to a sympathy with various interests, it immediately passes into effeminacy; allows its energies to sink, and makes men the slaves of an enervated sensuality.



Persia
The Persians – a free mountain and nomad people – though ruling over richer, more civilized and fertile lands – retained on the whole the fundamental characteristics of their ancient mode of life. They stood with one foot on their ancestral territory, with the other on their foreign conquests. In his ancestral land the King was a friend among friends, and as if surrounded by equals. Outside of it, he was the lord to whom all were subject, and bound to acknowledge their dependence by the payment of tribute. Faithful to the Zend religion, the Persians give themselves to the pursuit of piety and the pure worship of Ormuzd. The tombs of the Kings were in Persia Proper; and there the King sometimes visited his countrymen, with whom he lived in relations of the greatest simplicity. He brought with him presents for them, while all other nations were obliged to make presents to him. At the court of the monarch there was a division of Persian cavalry which constituted the elite of the whole army, ate at a common table, and were subject to a most perfect discipline in every respect. They made themselves illustrious by their bravery, and even the Greeks awarded a tribute of respect to their valor in the Median wars. When the entire Persian host, to which this division belonged, was to engage in an expedition, a summons was first issued to all the Asiatic populations. When the warriors were assembled, the expedition was undertaken with that character of restlessness, that nomadic disposition which formed the idiosyncrasy of the Persians. Thus they invaded Egypt, Scythia, Thrace, and at last Greece; where their vast power was destined to be shattered. A march of this kind looked almost like an emigration: their families accompanied them.
Each people exhibited its national features and warlike accoutrements, and poured forth en masse. Each had its own order of march and mode of warfare. Herodotus sketches for us a brilliant picture of this variety of aspect as it presented itself in the vast march of nations under Xerxes (two millions of human beings are said to have accompanied him). Yet, as these peoples were so unequally disciplined – so diverse in strength and bravery – it is easy to understand how the small but well-trained armies of the Greeks, animated by the same spirit, and under matchless leadership, could withstand those innumerable but disorderly hosts of the Persians. The provinces had to provide for the support of the Persian cavalry, which were quartered in the centre of the kingdom. Babylon had to contribute the third part of the supplies in question, and consequently appears to have been by far the richest district. As regards other branches of revenue, each people was obliged to supply the choicest of the peculiar produce which the district afforded. Thus Arabia gave frankincense, Syria purple, etc.
The education of the princes – but especially that of the heir to the throne – was conducted with extreme care. Till their seventh year the sons of the King remained among the women, and did not come into the royal presence. From their seventh year forward they were instructed in hunting, riding, shooting with the bow, and also in speaking the truth. There is one statement to the effect that the prince received instruction in the Magian lore of Zoroaster. Four of the noblest Persians conducted the prince’s education. The magnates of the land, at large, constituted a kind of Diet. Among them Magi were also found. They are depicted as free men, animated by a noble fidelity and patriotism. Of such character seem the seven nobles – the counterpart of the Amshaspand who stand around Ormuzd – when after the unmasking of the false Smerdis, who on the death of King Cambyses gave himself out as his brother, they assembled to deliberate on the most desirable form of government. Quite free from passion, and without exhibiting any ambition, they agree that monarchy is the only form of government adapted to the Persian Empire. The Sun, and the horse which first salutes them with a neigh, decide the succession in favor of Darius. The magnitude of the Persian dominion occasioned the government of the provinces by viceroys – Satraps; and these often acted very arbitrarily to the provinces subjected to their rule, and displayed hatred and envy towards each other; a source of much evil. These satraps were only superior presidents of the provinces, and generally left the subject kings of the countries in possession of regal privileges. All the land and all the water belonged to the Great King of the Persians. “Land and Water” were the demands of Darius Hystaspes and Xerxes from the Greeks. But the King was only the abstract sovereign: the enjoyment of the country remained to the nations themselves; whose obligations were comprised in the maintenance of the court and the satraps, and the contribution of the choicest part of their property. Uniform taxes first make their appearance under the government of Darius Hystaspes. On the occasion of a royal progress the districts of the empire visited had to give presents to the King; and from the amount of these gifts we may infer the wealth of the unexhausted provinces. Thus the dominion of the Persians was by no means oppressive, either in secular or religious respects. The Persians, according to Herodotus, had no idols – in fact ridiculed anthropomorphic representations of the gods; but they tolerated every religion, although there may be found expressions of wrath against idolatry. Greek temples were destroyed, and the images of the gods broken in pieces.
Syria and the Semitic Western Asia
One element – the coast territory – which also belonged to the Persian Empire, is especially represented by Syria. It was peculiarly important to the Persian Empire; for when Continental Persia set out on one of its great expeditions, it was accompanied by Phoenician as well as by Greek navies. The Phoenician coast is but a very narrow border – often only two leagues broad – which has the high mountains of Lebanon on the East. On the seacoast lay a series of noble and rich cities, as Tyre, Sidon, Byblus, Berytus, carrying on great trade and commerce; which last, however, was too isolated and confined to that particular country, to allow it to affect the whole Persian state. Their commerce lay chiefly in the direction of the Mediterranean sea, and it reached thence far into the West. Through its intercourse with so many nations, Syria soon attained a high degree of culture. There the most beautiful fabrications in metals and precious stones were prepared, and there the most important discoveries, e.g., of Glass and of Purple, were made. Written language there received its first development, for in their intercourse with various nations the need of it was soon felt. (So, to quote another example, Lord Macartney observes that in Canton itself, the Chinese had felt and expressed the need of a more pliable written language.) The Phoenicians discovered and first navigated the Atlantic Ocean. They had settlements in Cyprus and Crete. In the remote island of Thasos, they worked gold mines. In the south and southwest of Spain they opened silver mines. In Africa they founded the colonies of Utica and Carthage. From Gades they sailed far down the African coast, and according to some, even circumnavigated Africa. From Britain they brought tin, and from the Baltic, Prussian amber. This opens to us an entirely new principle. Inactivity ceases, as also mere rude valor; in their place appears the activity of Industry, and that considerate courage which, while it dares the perils of the deep, rationally bethinks itself of the means of safety. Here everything depends on Man’s activity, his courage, his intelligence; while the objects aimed at are also pursued in the interest of Man. Human will and activity here occupy the foreground, not Nature and its bounty. Babylonia had its determinate share of territory, and human subsistence was there dependent on the course of the sun and the process of Nature generally. But the sailor relies upon himself amid the fluctuations of the waves, and eye and heart must be always open. In like manner the principle of Industry involves the very opposite of what is received from Nature; for natural objects are worked up for use and ornament. In Industry Man is an object to himself, and treats Nature as something subject to him, on which he impresses the seal of his activity. Intelligence is the valor needed here, and ingenuity is better than mere natural courage. At this point we see the nations freed from the fear of Nature and its slavish bondage.
If we compare their religious ideas with the above, we shall see in Babylon, in the Syrian tribes, and in Phrygia, first a rude, vulgar, sensual idolatry – a description of which in its principal features is given in the Prophets. Nothing indeed more specific than idolatry is mentioned; and this is an indefinite term. The Chinese, the Hindoos, the Greeks, practise idolatry; the Catholics, too, adore the images of saints; but in the sphere of thought with which we are at present occupied, it is the powers of Nature and of production generally that constitute the object of veneration; and the worship is luxury and pleasure. The Prophets give the most terrible pictures of this – though their repulsive character must be partly laid to the account of the hatred of Jews against neighboring peoples. Such representations are particularly ample in the Book of Wisdom. Not only was there a worship of natural objects, but also of the Universal Power of Nature – Astarte, Cybele, Diana of Ephesus. The worship paid was a sensuous intoxication, excess, and revelry: sensuality and cruelty are its two characteristic traits. “When they keep their holy days they act as if mad,” ["they are mad when they be merry” – English Version] says the Book of Wisdom (xiv. 28). With a merely sensuous life – this being a form of consciousness which does not attain to general conceptions – cruelty is connected; because Nature itself is the Highest, so that Man has no value, or only the most trifling. Moreover, the genius of such a polytheism involves the destruction of its consciousness on the part of Spirit in striving to identify itself with Nature, and the annihilation of the Spiritual generally. Thus we see children sacrificed – priests of Cybele subjecting themselves to mutilation – men making themselves eunuchs – women prostituting themselves in the temple. As a feature of the court of Babylon it deserves to be remarked, that when Daniel was brought up there, it was not required of him to take part in the religious observances; and moreover that food ceremonially pure was allowed him; that he was in requisition especially for interpreting the dreams of the King, because he had “the spirit of the holy gods.” The King proposes to elevate himself above sensuous life by dreams, as indications from a superior power. It is thus generally evident, that the bond of religion was lax, and that here no unity is to be found. For we observe also adorations offered to images of kings; the power of Nature and the King as a spiritual Power, are the Highest; so that in this form of idolatry there is manifested a perfect contrast to the Persian purity.
We find on the other hand something quite different among the Phoenicians, that bold seafaring people. Herodotus tells us, that at Tyre Hercules was worshipped. If the divinity in question is not absolutely identical with the Greek demigod, there must be understood by that name one whose attributes nearly agree with his. This worship is particularly indicative of the character of the people; for it is Hercules of whom the Greeks say, that he raised himself to Olympus by dint of human courage and daring. The idea of the Sun perhaps originated that of Hercules as engaged in his twelve labors; but this basis does not give us the chief feature of the myth, which is, that Hercules is that scion of the gods who, by his virtue and exertion, made himself a god by human spirit and valor; and who, instead of passing his life in idleness, spends it in hardship and toil. A second religious element is the worship of Adonis, which takes place in the towns of the coast (it was celebrated in Egypt also by the Ptolemies) ; and respecting which we find a notable passage in the Book of Wisdom (xiv. 13, etc.), where it is said: “The idols were not from the beginning – but were invented through the vain ambition of men, because the latter are short- lived. For a father afflicted with untimely mourning, when he had made an image of his child (Adonis) early taken away, honored him as a god, who was a dead man, and delivered to those that were under him ceremonies and sacrifices” (E. V. nearly). The feast of Adonis was very similar to the worship of Osiris – the commemoration of his death – a funeral festival, at which the women broke out into the most extravagant lamentations over the departed god. In India lamentation is suppressed in the heroism of insensibility; uncomplaining, the women there plunge into the river, and the men, ingenious in inventing penances, impose upon themselves the direst tortures ; for they give themselves up to the loss of vitality, in order to destroy consciousness in empty abstract contemplation. Here, on the contrary, human pain becomes an element of worship; in pain man realizes his subjectivity: it is expected of him – he may here indulge self-consciousness and the feeling of actual existence. Life here regains its value. A universality of pain is established: for death becomes immanent in the Divine, and the deity dies. Among the Persians we saw Light and Darkness struggling with each other, but here both principles are united in one – the Absolute. The Negative is here, too, the merely Natural; but as the death of a god, it is not a limitation attaching to an individual object, but is pure Negativity itself. And this point is important, because the generic conception that has to be formed of Deity is Spirit; which involves its being concrete, and having in it the element of negativity. The qualities of wisdom and power are also concrete qualities, but only as predicates; so that God remains abstract substantial unity, in which differences themselves vanish, and do not become organic elements (Momente) of this unity. But here the Negative itself is a phase of Deity – the Natural – Death; – the worship appropriate to which is grief. It is in the celebration of the death of Adonis, and of his resurrection, that the concrete is made conscious. Adonis is a youth, who is torn from his parents by a too early death. In China, in the worship of ancestors, these latter enjoy divine honor. But parents in their decease only pay the debt of Nature. When a youth is snatched away by death, the occurrence is regarded as contrary to the proper order of things: and while affliction at the death of parents is no just affliction, in the case of youth death is a paradox. And this is the deeper element in the conception – that in the Divinity, Negativity – Antithesis – is manifested; and that the worship rendered to him involves both elements – the pain felt for the divinity snatched away, and the joy occasioned by his being found again.


Judaea
The next people belonging to the Persian empire, in that wide circle of nationalities which it comprises, is the Jewish. We find here, too, a canonical book – the Old Testament; in which the views of this people – whose principle is the exact opposite of the one just described – are exhibited. While among the Phoenician people the Spiritual was still limited by Nature, in the case of the Jews we find it entirely purified; – the pure product of Thought. Self-conception appears in the field of consciousness, and the Spiritual develops itself in sharp contrast to Nature and to union with it. It is true that we observed at an earlier stage the pure conception “Brahm”; but only as the universal being of Nature; and with this limitation, that Brahm is not himself an object of consciousness. Among the Persians we saw this abstract being become an object for consciousness, but it was that of sensuous intuition – as Light. But the idea of Light has at this stage advanced to that of “Jehovah” – the purely One. This forms the point of separation between the East and the West; Spirit descends into the depths of its own being, and recognizes the abstract fundamental principle as the Spiritual. Nature – which in the East is the primary and fundamental existence – is now depressed to the condition of a mere creature; and Spirit now occupies the first place. God is known as the creator of all men, as he is of all nature, and as absolute causality generally. But this great principle, as further conditioned, is exclusive Unity. This religion must necessarily possess the element of exclusiveness, which consists essentially in this – that only the One People which adopts it, recognizes the One God, and is acknowledged by him. The God of the Jewish People is the God only of Abraham and of his seed: National individuality and a special local worship are involved in such a conception of deity. Before him all other gods are false: moreover the distinction between “true” and “false” is quite abstract; for as regards the false gods, not a ray of the Divine is supposed to shine into them. But every form of spiritual force, and à fortiori every religion is of such a nature, that whatever be its peculiar character, an affirmative element is necessarily contained in it. However erroneous a religion may be, it possesses truth, although in a mutilated phase. In every religion there is a divine presence, a divine relation; and a philosophy of History has to seek out the spiritual element even in the most imperfect forms. But it does not follow that because it is a religion, it is therefore good. We must not fall into the lax conception, that the content is of no importance, but only the form. This latitudinarian tolerance the Jewish religion does not admit, being absolutely exclusive.
The Spiritual speaks itself here absolutely free of the Sensuous, and Nature is reduced to something merely external and undivine. This is the true and proper estimate of Nature at this stage; for only at a more advanced phase can the Idea attain a reconciliation [recognize itself] in this its alien form. Its first utterances will be in opposition to Nature; for Spirit, which had been hitherto dishonored, now first attains its due dignity, while Nature resumes its proper position. Nature is conceived as having the ground of its existence in another – as something posited, created; and this idea, that God is the lord and creator of Nature, leads men to regard God as the Exalted One, while the whole of Nature is only his robe of glory, and is expended in his service. In contrast with this kind of exaltation, that which the Hindoo religion presents is only that of indefinitude. In virtue of the prevailing spirituality the Sensuous and Immoral are no longer privileged, but disparaged as ungodliness. Only the One – Spirit – the Non-sensuous is the Truth; Thought exists free for itself, and true morality and righteousness can now make their appearance; for God is honored by righteousness, and rightdoing is “walking in the way of the Lord.” With this is conjoined happiness, life and temporal prosperity as its reward; for it is said: “that thou mayest live long in the land.” – Here too also we have the possibility of a historical view; for the understanding has become prosaic; putting the limited and circumscribed in its proper place, and comprehending it as the form proper to finite existence: Men are regarded as individuals, not as incarnations of God; Sun as Sun, Mountains as Mountains – not as possessing Spirit and Will.
We observe among this people a severe religious ceremonial, expressing a relation to pure Thought. The individual as concrete does not become free, because the Absolute itself is not comprehended as concrete Spirit; since Spirit still appears posited as non-spiritual – destitute of its proper characteristics. It is true that subjective feeling is manifest – the pure heart, repentance, devotion; but the particular concrete individuality has not become objective to itself in the Absolute. It therefore remains closely bound to the observance of ceremonies and of the Law, the basis of which latter is pure freedom in its abstract form. The Jews possess that which makes them what they are, through the One: consequently the individual has no freedom for itself. Spinoza regards the code of Moses as having been given by God to the Jews for a punishment – a rod of correction. The individual never comes to the consciousness of independence; on that account we do not find among the Jews any belief in the immortality of the soul; for individuality does not exist in and for itself. But though in Judaism the Individual is not respected, the Family has inherent value; for the worship of Jehovah is attached to the Family, and it is consequently viewed as a substantial existence. But the State is an institution not consonant with the Judaistic principle, and it is alien to the legislation of Moses. In the idea of the Jews, Jehovah is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob; who commanded them to depart out of Egypt, and gave them the land of Canaan. The accounts of the Patriarchs attract our interest. We seen in this history the transition from the patriarchal nomad condition to agriculture. On the whole the Jewish history exhibits grand features of character; but it is disfigured by an exclusive bearing (sanctioned in its religion), towards the genius of other nations (the destruction of the inhabitants of Canaan being even commanded) – by want of culture generally, and by the superstition arising from the idea of the high value of their peculiar nationality. Miracles, too, form a disturbing feature in this history – as history; for as far as concrete consciousness is not free, concrete perception is also not free; Nature is undeified, but not yet understood.
The Family became a great nation; through the conquest of Canaan, it took a whole country into possession ; and erected a Temple for the entire people, in Jerusalem. But properly speaking no political union existed. In case of national danger heroes arose, who placed themselves at the head of the armies; though the nation during this period was for the most part in subjection. Later on, kings were chosen, and it was they who first rendered the Jews independent. David even made conquests. Originally the legislation is adapted to a family only; yet in the books of Moses the wish for a king is anticipated. The priests are to choose him: he is not to be a foreigner – not to have horsemen in large numbers – and he is to have few wives. After a short period of glory the kingdom suffered internal disruption and was divided. As there was only one tribe of Levites and one Temple – i.e., in Jerusalem – idolatry was immediately introduced. The One God could not be honored in different Temples, and there could not be two kingdoms attached to one religion. However spiritual may be the conception of God as objective, the subjective side – the honor rendered to him – is still very limited and unspiritual in character. The two kingdoms, equally infelicitous in foreign and domestic warfare, were at last subjected to the Assyrians and Babylonians ; through Cyrus the Israelites obtained permission to return home and live according to their own laws.


Egypt
The Persian Empire is one that has passed away, and we have nothing but melancholy relics of its glory. Its fairest and richest towns – such as Babylon, Susa, Persepolis – are razed to the ground; and only a few ruins mark their ancient site. Even in the more modern great cities of Persia – Ispahan and Shiraz – half of them has become a ruin; and they have not – as is the case with ancient Rome – developed a new life, but have lost their place almost entirely in the remembrance of the surrounding nations. Besides the other lands already enumerated as belonging to the Persian Empire, Egypt claims notice – characteristically the Land of Ruins; a land which from hoar antiquity has been regarded with wonder, and which in recent times also has attracted the greatest interest. Its ruins, the final result of immense labor, surpass in the gigantic and monstrous, all that antiquity has left us.
In Egypt we see united the elements which in the Persian monarchy appeared singly. We found among the Persians the adoration of Light – regarded as the Essence of universal Nature. This principle then develops itself in phases which hold a position of indifference towards each other. The one is the immersion in the sensuous – among the Babylonians and Syrians ; the other is the Spiritual phase, which is twofold: first as the incipient consciousness of the concrete Spirit in the worship of Adonis, and then as pure and abstract thought among the Jews. In the former the concrete is deficient in unity; in the latter the concrete is altogether wanting. The next problem is then, to harmonize these contradictory elements; and this problem presents itself in Egypt. Of the representations which Egyptian Antiquity presents us with, one figure must be especially noticed, viz. the Sphinx – in itself a riddle – an ambiguous form, half brute, half human. The Sphinx may be regarded as a symbol of the Egyptian Spirit. The human head looking out from the brute body, exhibits Spirit as it begins to emerge from the merely Natural – to tear itself loose therefrom and already to look more freely around it; without, however, entirely freeing itself from the fetters Nature had imposed. The innumerable edifices of the Egyptians are half below the ground, and half rise above it into the air. The whole land is divided into a kingdom of life and a kingdom of death. The colossal statue of Memnon resounds at the first glance of the young morning Sun; though it is not yet the free light of Spirit with which it vibrates. Written language is still a hieroglyphic; and its basis is only the sensuous image, not the letter itself.
Thus the memorials of Egypt themselves give us a multitude of forms and images that express its character; we recognize a Spirit in them which feels itself compressed; which utters itself, but only in a sensuous mode.
Egypt was always the Land of Marvels, and has remained so to the present day. It is from the Greeks especially that we get information respecting it, and chiefly from Herodotus. This intelligent historiographer himself visited the country of which he wished to give an account, and at its chief towns made acquaintance with the Egyptian priests. Of all that he saw and heard, he gives an accurate record; but the deeper symbolism of the Egyptian mythology he has refrained from unfolding. This he regards as something sacred, and respecting which he cannot so freely speak as of merely external objects. Besides him Diodorus Siculus is an authority of great importance; and among the Jewish historians, Josephus.
In their architecture and hieroglyphics, the thoughts and conceptions of the Egyptians are expressed. A national work in the department of language is wanting: and that not only to us, but to the Egyptians themselves; they could not have any, because they had not advanced to an understanding of themselves. Nor was there any Egyptian history, until at last Ptolemy Philadelphus – he who had the sacred books of the Jews translated into Greek – prompted the High-Priest Manetho to write an Egyptian history. Of this we have only extracts – list of Kings; which however have occasioned the greatest perplexities and contradictory views. To become acquainted with Egypt, we must for the most part have recourse to the notices of the ancients, and the immense monuments that are left us. We find a number of granite walls on which hieroglyphics are graved, and the ancients have given us explanations of some of them, but which are quite insufficient. In recent times attention has especially been recalled to them, and after many efforts something at least of the hieroglyphic writing has been deciphered. The celebrated Englishman, Thomas Young, first suggested a method of discovery, and called attention to the fact, that there are small surfaces separated from the other hieroglyphics, and in which a Greek translation is perceptible. By comparison Young made out three names – Berenice, Cleopatra, and Ptolemy – and this was the first step in deciphering them. It was found at a later date, that a great part of the hieroglyphics are phonetic, that is, express sounds. Thus the figure of an eye denotes first the eye itself, but secondly the first letter of the Egyptian word that means “eye” (as in Hebrew the figure of a house, ב, denotes the letter b, with which the word תןש, House, begins). The celebrated Champollion (the younger), first called attention to the fact that the phonetic hieroglyphs are intermingled with those which mark conceptions; and thus classified the hieroglyphs and established settled principles for deciphering them.
The History of Egypt, as we have it, is full of the greatest contradictions. The Mythical is blended with the Historical, and the statements are as diverse as can be imagined. European literati have eagerly investigated the lists given by Manetho and have relied upon them, and several names of kings have been confirmed by the recent discoveries. Herodotus says that according to the statements of the priests, gods had formerly reigned over Egypt, and that from the first human king down to the King Setho 341 generations, or 11,340 years, had passed away; but that the first human ruler was Menes (the resemblance of the name to the Greek Minos and the Hindoo Manu is striking). With the exception of the Thebaid – its most southern part – Egypt was said by them to have formed a lake; the Delta presents reliable evidence of having been produced by the silt of the Nile. As the Dutch have gained their territory from the sea, and have found means to sustain themselves upon it; so the Egyptians first acquired their country, and maintained its fertility by canals and lakes. An important feature in the history of Egypt is its descent from Upper to Lower Egypt – from the South to the North. With this is connected the consideration that Egypt probably received its culture from Ethiopia; principally from the island Meroe, which, according to recent hypotheses, was occupied by a sacerdotal people. Thebes in Upper Egypt was the most ancient residence of the Egyptian kings. Even in Herodotus’s time it was in a state of dilapidation. The ruins of this city present the most enormous specimens of Egyptian architecture that we are acquainted with. Considering their antiquity they are remarkably well preserved: which is partly owing to the perpetually cloudless sky. The centre of the kingdom was then transferred to Memphis, not far from the modern Cairo; and lastly to Sais, in the Delta itself. The structures that occur in the locality of this city are of very late date and imperfectly preserved. Herodotus tells us that Memphis was referred to so remote a founder as Menes. Among the later kings must be especially noticed Sesostris, who, according to Champollion, is Rameses the Great. To him in particular are referred a number of monuments and pictures in which are depicted his triumphal processions, and the captives taken in battle. Herodotus speaks of his conquests in Syria, extending even to Colchis; and illustrates his statement by the great similarity between the manners of the Colchians and those of the Egyptians; these two nations and the Ethiopians were the only ones that had always practised circumcision. Herodotus says, moreover, that Sesostris had vast canals dug through the whole of Egypt, which served to convey the water of the Nile to every part. It may be generally remarked that the more provident the government in Egypt was, so much the more regard did it pay to the maintenance of the canals, while under negligent governments the desert got the upper hand; for Egypt was engaged in a constant struggle with the fierceness of the heat and with the water of the Nile. It appears from Herodotus, that the country had become impassable for cavalry in consequence of the canals; while, on the contrary, we see from the books of Moses, how celebrated Egypt once was in this respect. Moses says that if the Jews desired a king, he must not marry too many wives, nor send for horses from Egypt.
Next to Sesostris the Kings Cheops and Chephren deserve special mention. They are said to have built enormous pyramids and closed the temples of the priests. A son of Cheops – Mycerinus – is said to have reopened them; after him the Ethiopians invaded the country, and their king, Sabaco, made himself sovereign of Egypt. But Anysis, the successor of Mycerinus, fled into the marshes – to the mouth of the Nile; only after the departure of the Ethiopians did he make his appearance again. He was succeeded by Setho, who had been a priest of Phtha (supposed to be the same as Hephaestus): under his government, Sennacherib, King of the Assyrians, invaded the country. Setho had always treated the warrior-caste with great disrespect, and even robbed them of their lands; and when he invoked their assistance, they refused it. He was obliged therefore to issue a general summons to the Egyptians, and assembled a host composed of hucksters, artisans, and market people. In the Bible we are told that the enemies fled, and that it was the angels who routed them; but Herodotus relates that field mice came in the night and gnawed the quivers and bows of the enemy, so that the latter, deprived of their weapons, were compelled to flee. After the death of Setho, the Egyptians (Herodotus tells us) regarded themselves as free, and chose themselves twelve kings, who formed a federal union – as a symbol of which they built the Labyrinth, consisting of an immense number of rooms and halls above and below ground. In the year 650 B.C. one of these kings, Psammitichus, with the help of the Ionians and Carians (to whom he promised land in Lower Egypt), expelled the eleven other kings. Till that time Egypt had remained secluded from the rest of the world; and at sea it had established no connection with other nations. Psammitichus commenced such a connection, and thereby led the way to the ruin of Egypt. From this point the history becomes clearer, because it is based on Greek accounts. Psammitichus was followed by Necho, who began to dig a canal, which was to unite the Nile with the Red Sea, but which was not completed until the reign of Darius Nothus. The plan of uniting the Mediterranean Sea with the Arabian Gulf, and the wide ocean, is not so advantageous as might be supposed; since in the Red Sea – which on other accounts is very difficult to navigate – there prevails for about nine months in the year a constant north wind, so that it is only during three months that the passage from south to north is feasible. Necho was followed by Psammis, and the latter by Apries, who led an army against Sidon, and engaged with the Tyrians by sea: against Cyrene also he sent an army, which was almost annihilated by the Cyrenians. The Egyptians rebelled against him, accusing him of wishing to lead them to destruction; but this revolt was probably caused by the favor shown by him to the Carians and Ionians. Amasis placed himself at the head of the rebels, conquered the king, and possessed himself of the throne. By Herodotus he is depicted as a humorous monarch, who, however, did not always maintain the dignity of the throne. From a very humble station he had raised himself to royalty by ability, astuteness, and intelligence, and he exhibited in all other relations the same keen understanding. In the morning he held his court of judicature, and listened to the complaints of the people; but in the afternoon, feasted and surrendered himself to pleasure. To his friends, who blamed him on this account, and told him that he ought to give the whole day to business, he made answer: “If the bow is constantly on the stretch, it becomes useless or breaks.” As the Egyptians thought less of him on account of his mean descent, he had a golden basin – used for washing the feet – made into the image of a god in high honor among the Egyptians; this he meant as a symbol of his own elevation. Herodotus relates, moreover, that he indulged in excesses as a private man, dissipated the whole of his property, and then betook himself to stealing. This contrast of a vulgar soul and a keen intellect is characteristic in an Egyptian king.
Amasis drew down upon him the ill-will of King Cambyses. Cyrus desired an oculist from the Egyptians; for at that time the Egyptian oculists were very famous, their skill having been called out by the numerous eye-diseases prevalent in Egypt. This oculist, to revenge himself for having been sent out of the country, advised Cambyses to ask for the daughter of Amasis in marriage; knowing well that Amasis would either be rendered unhappy by giving her to him, or on the other hand, incur the wrath of Cambyses by refusing. Amasis would not give his daughter to Cambyses. because the latter desired her as an inferior wife (for his lawful spouse must be a Persian) ; but sent him, under the name of his own daughter, that of Apries, who afterwards discovered her real name to Cambyses. The latter was so incensed at the deception, that he led an expedition against Egypt, conquered that country, and united it with the Persian Empire.
As to the Egyptian Spirit, it deserves mention here, that the Elians in Herodotus’s narrative call the Egyptians the wisest of mankind. It also surprises us to find among them, in the vicinity of African stupidity, reflective intelligence, a thoroughly rational organization characterizing all institutions, and most astonishing works of art. The Egyptians were, like the Hindoos, divided into castes, and the children always continued the trade and business of their parents. On this account, also, the Mechanical and Technical in the arts was so much developed here; while the hereditary transmission of occupations did not produce the same disadvantageous results in the character of the Egyptians as in India. Herodotus mentions the seven following castes: the priests, the warriors, the neatherds, the swineherds, the merchants (or trading population generally), the interpreters – who seem only at a later date to have constituted a separate class – and, lastly, the seafaring class. Agriculturists are not named here, probably because agriculture was the occupation of several castes, as, e.g., the warriors, to whom a portion of the land was given. Diodorus and Strabo give a different account of these caste-divisions. Only priests, warriors, herdsmen, agriculturists, and artificers are mentioned, to which latter, perhaps, tradesmen also belong. Herodotus says of the priests, that they in particular received arable land, and had it cultivated for rent; for the land generally was in the possession of the priests, warriors, and kings. Joseph was a minister of the king, according to Holy Scripture, and contrived to make him master of all landed property. But the several occupations did not remain so stereotyped as among the Hindoos; for we find the Israelites, who were originally herdsmen, employed also as manual laborers: and there was a king – as stated above – who formed an army of manual laborers alone. The castes are not rigidly fixed, but struggle with and come into contact with one another: we often find cases of their being broken up and in a state of rebellion. The warrior- caste, at one time discontented on account of their not being released from their abodes in the direction of Nubia, and desperate at not being able to make use of their lands, betake themselves to Meroë, and foreign mercenaries are introduced into the country.
Of the mode of life among the Egyptians, Herodotus supplies a very detailed account, giving prominence to everything which appears to him to deviate from Greek manners. Thus the Egyptians had physicians specially devoted to particular diseases; the women were engaged in outdoor occupations, while the men remained at home to weave. In one part of Egypt polygamy prevailed; in another, monogamy; the women had but one garment, the men two; they wash and bathe much, and undergo purification every month. All this points to a condition of settled peace. As to arrangements of police, the law required that every Egyptian should present himself, at a time appointed, before the superintendent under whom he lived, and state from what resources he obtained his livelihood. If he could not refer to any, he was punished with death. This law, however, was of no earlier date than Amasis. The greatest care, moreover, was observed in the division of the arable land, as also in planning canals and dikes; under Sabaco, the Ethiopian king, says Herodotus, many cities were elevated by dikes.
The business of courts of justice was administered with very great care. They consisted of thirty judges nominated by the district, and who chose their own president. Pleadings were conducted in writing, and proceeded as far as the “rejoinder.” Diodorus thinks this plan very effectual, in obviating the perverting influence of forensic oratory, and of the sympathy of the judges. The latter pronounced sentence silently, and in a hieroglyphical manner. Herodotus says, that they had a symbol of truth on their breasts, and turned it towards that side in whose favor the cause was decided, or adorned the victorious party with it. The king himself had to take part in judicial business every day. Theft, we are told, was forbidden; but the law commanded that thieves should inform against themselves. If they did so, they were not punished, but, on the contrary, were allowed to keep a fourth part of what they had stolen. This perhaps was designed to excite and keep in exercise that cunning for which the Egyptians were so celebrated.
The intelligence displayed in their legislative economy, appears characteristic of the Egyptians. This intelligence, which manifests itself in the practical, we also recognize in the productions of art and science. The Egyptians are reported to have divided the year into twelve months, and each month into thirty days. At the end of the year they intercalated five additional days, and Herodotus says that their arrangement was better than that of the Greeks. The intelligence of the Egyptians especially strikes us in the department of mechanics. Their vast edifices – such as no other nation has to exhibit, and which excel all others in solidity and size – sufficiently prove their artistic skill; to whose cultivation they could largely devote themselves, because the inferior castes did not trouble themselves with political matters. Diodorus Siculus says, that Egypt was the only country in which the citizens did not trouble themselves about the state, but gave their whole attention to their private business. Greeks and Romans must have been especially astonished at such a state of things.
On account of its judicious economy, Egypt was regarded by the ancients as the pattern of a morally regulated condition of things – as an ideal such as Pythagoras realized in a limited select society, and Plato sketched on a larger scale. But in such ideals no account is taken of passion. A plan of society that is to be adopted and acted upon, as an absolutely complete one – in which everything has been considered, and especially the education and habituation to it, necessary to its becoming a second nature – is altogether opposed to the nature of Spirit, which makes contemporary life the object on which it acts; itself being the infinite impulse of activity to alter its forms. This impulse also expressed itself in Egypt in a peculiar way. It would appear at first as if a condition of things so regular, so determinate in every particular, contained nothing that had a peculiarity entirely its own. The introduction of a religious element would seem to be an affair of no critical moment, provided the higher necessities of men were satisfied; we should in fact rather expect that it would be introduced in a peaceful way and in accordance with the moral arrangement of things already mentioned. But in contemplating the Religion of the Egyptians, we are surprised by the strangest and most wonderful phenomena, and perceive that this calm order of things, bound fast by legislative enactment, is not like that of the Chinese, but that we have here to do with a Spirit entirely different – one full of stirring and urgent impulses. We have here the African element, in combination with Oriental massiveness, transplanted to the Mediterranean Sea, that grand locale of the display of nationalities; but in such a manner, that here there is no connection with foreign nations – this mode of stimulating intellect appearing superfluous; for we have here a prodigious urgent striving within the nationality itself, and which within its own circle shoots out into an objective realization of itself in the most monstrous productions. It is that African imprisonment of ideas combined with the infinite impulse of the spirit to realize itself objectively, which we find here. But Spirit has still, as it were, an iron band around its forehead; so that it cannot attain to the free consciousness of its existence, but produces this only as the problem, the enigma of its being.
The fundamental conception of that which the Egyptians regard as the essence of being, rests on the determinate character of the natural world, in which they live; and more particularly on the determinate physical circle which the Nile and the Sun mark out. These two are strictly connected – the position of the Sun and that of the Nile; and to the Egyptian this is all in all. The Nile is that which essentially determines the boundaries of the country; beyond the Nile- valley begins the desert; on the north, Egypt is shut in by the sea, and on the south by torrid heat. The first Arab leader that conquered Egypt, writes to the Caliph Omar: “Egypt is first a vast sea of dust; then a sea of fresh water; lastly, it is a great sea of flowers. It never rains there; towards the end of July dew falls, and then the Nile begins to overflow its banks, and Egypt resembles a sea of islands.” (Herodotus compares Egypt, during this period, with the islands in the Ægean.) The Nile leaves behind it prodigious multitudes of living creatures: then appear moving and creeping things innumerable; soon after, man begins to sow the ground, and the harvest is very abundant. Thus the existence of the Egyptian does not depend on the brightness of the sun, or the quantity of rain. For him, on the contrary, there exist only those perfectly simple conditions, which form the basis of his mode of life and its occupations. There is a definite physical cycle, which the Nile pursues, and which is connected with the course of the Sun; the latter advances, reaches its culmination, and then retrogrades. So also does the Nile.
This basis of the life of the Egyptians determines moreover the particular tenor of their religious views. A controversy has long been waged respecting the sense of meaning of the Egyptian religion. As early as the reign of Tiberius, the Stoic Chaeremon, who had been in Egypt, explains it in a purely materialistic sense. The New Platonists take a directly opposite view, regarding all as symbols of a spiritual meaning, and thus making this religion a pure Idealism. Each of these representations is one-sided. Natural and spiritual powers are regarded as most intimately united – (the free spiritual import, however, has not been developed at this stage of thought) – but in such a way, that the extremes of the antithesis were united in the harshest contrast. We have spoken of the Nile, of the Sun, and of the vegetation depending upon them. This limited view of Nature gives the principle of the religion, and its subject-matter is primarily a history. The Nile and the Sun constitute the divinities, conceived under human forms; and the course of nature and the mythological history is the same. In the winter solstice the power of the sun has reached its minimum, and must be born anew. Thus also Osiris appears as born; but he is killed by Typhon – his brother and enemy – the burning wind of the desert. Isis, the Earth – from whom the aid of the Sun and of the Nile has been withdrawn – yearns after him: she gathers the scattered bones of Osiris, and raises her lamentation for him, and all Egypt bewails with her the death of Osiris, in a song which Herodotus calls Maneros. Maneros he reports to have been the only son of the first king of the Egyptians, and to have died prematurely; this song being also the Linus- Song of the Greeks, and the only song which the Egyptians have. Here again pain is regarded as something divine, and the same honor is assigned to it here as among the Phoenicians. Hermes then embalms Osiris; and his grave is shown in various places. Osiris is now judge of the dead, and lord of the kingdom of the Shades. These are the leading ideas. Osiris, the Sun, the Nile; this triplicity of being is united in one knot. The Sun is the symbol, in which Osiris and the history of that god are recognized, and the Nile is likewise such a symbol. The concrete Egyptian imagination also ascribes to Osiris and Isis the introduction of agriculture, the invention of the plough, the hoe, etc.; for Osiris gives not only the useful itself – the fertility of the earth – but, moreover, the means of making use of it. He also gives men laws, a civil order and a religious ritual; he thus places in men’s hands the means of labor, and secures its result. Osiris is also the symbol of the seed which is placed in the earth, and then springs up – as also of the course of life. Thus we find this heterogeneous duality – the phenomena of Nature and the Spiritual – woven together into one knot.
The parallelism of the course of human life with the Nile, the Sun and Osiris, is not to be regarded as a mere allegory – as if the principle of birth, of increase in strength, of the culmination of vigor and fertility, of decline and weakness, exhibited itself in these different phenomena, in an equal or similar way; but in this variety imagination conceived only one subject, one vitality. This unity is, however, quite abstract: the heterogeneous element shows itself therein as pressing and urging, and in a confusion which sharply contrasts with Greek perspicuity. Osiris represents the Nile and the Sun: Sun and Nile are, on the other hand, symbols of human life – each one is signification and symbol at the same time; the symbol is changed into signification, and this latter becomes symbol of that symbol, which itself then becomes signification. None of these phases of existence is a Type without being at the same time a Signification; each is both; the one is explained by the other. Thus there arises one pregnant conception, composed of many conceptions, in which each fundamental nodus retains its individuality, so that they are not resolved into a general idea. The general idea – the thought itself, which forms the bond of analogy – does not present itself to the consciousness purely and freely as such, but remains concealed as an internal connection. We have a consolidated individuality, combining various phenomenal aspects; and which on the one hand is fanciful, on account of the combination of apparently disparate material, but on the other hand internally and essentially connected, because these various appearances are a particular prosaic matter of fact.
Besides this fundamental conception, we observe several special divinities, of whom Herodotus reckons three classes. Of the first he mentions eight gods; of the second twelve; of the third an indefinite number, who occupy the position towards the unity of Osiris of specific manifestations. In the first class, Fire and its use appears as Phtha, also as Knef, who is besides represented as the Good Genius; but the Nile itself is held to be that Genius, and thus abstractions are changed into concrete conceptions. Amman is regarded as a great divinity, with whom is associated the determination of the equinox: it is he, moreover, who gives oracles. But Osiris is similarly represented as the founder of oracular manifestations. So the Procreative Power, banished by Osiris, is represented as a particular divinity. But Osiris is himself this Procreative Power. Isis is the Earth, the Moon, the receptive fertility of Nature. As an important element in the conception Osiris, Anubis (Thoth) – the Egyptian Hermes – must be specially noticed. In human activity and invention, and in the economy of legislation, the Spiritual, as such, is embodied; and becomes in this form – which is itself determinate and limited – an object of consciousness. Here we have the Spiritual, not as one infinite, independent sovereignty over nature, but as a particular existence, side by side with the powers of Nature – characterized also by intrinsic particularity. And thus the Egyptians had also specific divinities, conceived as spiritual activities and forces; but partly intrinsically limited – partly [so, as] contemplated under natural symbols.
The Egyptian Hermes is celebrated as exhibiting the spiritual side of their theism. According to Jamblichus, the Egyptian priests immemorially prefixed to all their inventions the name Hermes: Eratosthenes, therefore, called his book, which treated of the entire science of Egypt – “Hermes.” Anubis is called the friend and companion of Osiris. To him is ascribed the invention of writing, and of science generally – of , grammar, astronomy, mensuration, music, and medicine. It was he who first divided the day into twelve hours: he was moreover the first lawgiver, the first instructor in religious observances and objects, and in gymnastics and orchestics; and it was he who discovered the olive. But, notwithstanding all these spiritual attributes, this divinity is something quite other than the God of Thought. Only particular human arts and inventions are associated with him. Not only so; but he entirely falls back into involvement in existence, and is degraded under physical symbols. He is represented with a dog’s head, as an imbruted god; and besides this mask, a particular natural object is bound up with the conception of this divinity; for he is at the same time Sirius, the Dog-Star. He is thus as limited in respect of what he embodies, as sensuous in the positive existence ascribed to him. It may be incidentally remarked, that as Ideas and Nature are not distinguished from each other, in the same way the arts and appliances of human life are not developed and arranged so as to form a rational circle of aims and means. Thus medicine – deliberation respecting corporeal disease – as also the whole range of deliberation and resolve with regard to undertakings in life – was subjected to the most multifarious superstition in the way of reliance on oracles and magic arts. Astronomy was also essentially Astrology, and Medicine an affair of magic, but more particularly of Astrology. All astrological and sympathetic superstition may be traced to Egypt.
Egyptian Worship is chiefly Zoolatry. We have observed the union here presented between the Spiritual and the Natural: the more advanced and elevated side of this conception is the fact that the Egyptians, while they observed the Spiritual as manifested in the Nile, the Sun, and the sowing of seed, took the same view of the life of animals. To us Zoolatry is repulsive. We may reconcile ourselves to the adoration of the material heaven, but the worship of brutes is alien to us; for the abstract natural element seems to us more generic, and therefore more worthy of veneration. Yet it is certain that the nations who worshipped the Sun and the Stars by no means occupy a higher grade than those who adore brutes, but contrariwise ; for in the brute world the Egyptians contemplate a hidden and incomprehensible principle.
We also, when we contemplate the life and action of brutes, are astonished at their instinct – the adaptation of their movements to the object intended – their restlessness, excitability, and liveliness; for they are exceedingly quick and discerning in pursuing the ends of their existence, while they are at the same time silent and shut up within themselves. We cannot make out what it is that “possesses” these creatures, and cannot rely on them. A black tom-cat, with its glowing eyes and its now gliding, now quick and darting movement, has been deemed the presence of a malignant being – a mysterious reserved spectre: the dog, the canary-bird, on the contrary, appear friendly and sympathizing. The lower animals are the truly Incomprehensible. A man cannot by imagination or conception enter into the nature of a dog, whatever resemblance he himself might have to it; it remains something altogether alien to him. It is in two departments that the so-called Incomprehensible meets us – in living Nature and in Spirit. But in very deed it is only in Nature that we have to encounter the Incomprehensible; for the being manifest to itself is the essence [supplies the very definition of], Spirit: Spirit understands and comprehends Spirit. The obtuse self-consciousness of the Egyptians, therefore, to which the thought of human freedom is not yet revealed, worships the soul as still shut up within and dulled by the physical organization, and sympathizes with brute life. We find a veneration of mere vitality among other nations also: sometimes expressly, as among the Hindoos and all the Mongolians; sometimes in mere traces, as among the Jews: “Thou shalt not eat the blood of animals, for in it is the life of the animal.” The Greeks and Romans also regarded birds as specially intelligent, believing that what in the human spirit was not revealed – the Incomprehensible and Higher – was to be found in them. But among the Egyptians this worship of beasts was carried to excess under the forms of a most stupid and non-human superstition. The worship of brutes was among them a matter of particular and detailed arrangement: each district had a brute deity of its own – a cat, an ibis, a crocodile, etc. Great establishments were provided for them; beautiful mates were assigned them; and, like human beings, they were embalmed after death. The bulls were buried, but with their horns protruding above their graves; the bulls embodying Apis had splendid monuments, and some of the pyramids must be looked upon as such. In one of those that have been opened, there was found in the most central apartment a beautiful alabaster coffin; and on closer examination it was found that the bones inclosed were those of the ox. This reverence for brutes was often carried to the most absurd excess of severity. If a man killed one designedly, he was punished with death; but even the undesigned killing of some animals might entail death. It is related, that once when a Roman in Alexandria killed a cat, an insurrection ensued, in which the Egyptians murdered the aggressor. They would let human beings perish by famine, rather than allow the sacred animals to be killed, or the provision made for them trenched upon. Still more than mere vitality, the universal vis vitas of productive nature was venerated in a Phallus-worship; which the Greeks also adopted into the rites paid by them to Dionysus. With this worship the greatest excesses were connected.
The brute form is, on the other hand, turned into a symbol: it is also partly degraded to a mere hieroglyphical sign. I refer here to the innumerable figures on the Egyptian monuments, of sparrow-hawks or falcons, dung-beetles, scarabaei, etc. It is not known what ideas such figures symbolized, and we can scarcely think that a satisfactory view of this very obscure subject is attainable. The dung-beetle is said to be the symbol of generation – of the sun and its course; the Ibis, that of the Nile’s overflowing; birds of the hawk tribe, of prophecy – of the year – of pity. The strangeness of these combinations results from the circumstance that we have not, as in our idea of poetical invention, a general conception embodied in an image; but, conversely, we begin with a concept in the sphere of sense, and imagination conducts us into the same sphere again. But we observe the conception liberating itself from the direct animal form, and the continued contemplation of it; and that which was only surmised and aimed at in that form, advancing to comprehensibility and conceivableness. The hidden meaning – the Spiritual – emerges as a human face from the brute. The multiform sphinxes, with lions’ bodies and virgins’ heads – or as male sphinxes (androsfiggis) with beards – are evidence supporting the view, that the meaning of the Spiritual is the problem which the Egyptians proposed to themselves; as the enigma generally is not the utterance of something unknown, but is the challenge to discover it – implying a wish to be revealed. But conversely, the human form is also disfigured by a brute face, with the view of giving it a specific and definite expression. The refined art of Greece is able to attain a specific expression through the spiritual character given to an image in the form of beauty, and does not need to deform the human face in order to be understood. The Egyptians appended an explanation to the human forms, even of the gods, by means of heads and masks of brutes; Anubis e.g., has a dog’s head, Isis, a lion’s head with bull’s horns, etc. The priests, also, in performing their functions, are masked as falcons, jackals, bulls, etc.; in the same way the surgeon, who has taken out the bowels of the dead (represented as fleeing, for he has laid sacrilegious hands on an object once hallowed by life) ; so also the embalmers and the scribes. The sparrow-hawk, with a human head and outspread wings, denotes the soul flying through material space, in order to animate a new body. The Egyptian imagination also created new forms – combinations of different animals: serpents with bulls’ and rams’ heads, bodies of lions with rams’ heads, etc.
We thus see Egypt intellectually confined by a narrow, involved, close view of Nature, but breaking through this; impelling it to self-contradiction, and proposing to itself the problem which that contradiction implies. The [Egyptian] principle does not remain satisfied with its primary conditions, but points to that other meaning and spirit which lies concealed beneath the surface.
In the view just given, we saw the Egyptian Spirit working itself free from natural forms. This urging, powerful Spirit, however, was not able to rest in the subjective conception of that view of things which we have now been considering, but was impelled to present it to external consciousness and outward vision by means of Art. – For the religion of the Eternal One – the Formless – Art is not only unsatisfying, but – since its object essentially and exclusively occupies the thought – something sinful. But Spirit, occupied with the contemplation of particular natural forms – being at the same time a striving and plastic Spirit – changes the direct, natural view, e.g., of the Nile, the Sun, etc., to images, in which Spirit has a share. It is, as we have seen, symbolizing Spirit; and as such, it endeavors to master these symbolizations, and to present them clearly before the mind. The more enigmatical and obscure it is to itself, so much the more does it feel the impulse to labor to deliver itself from its imprisonment, and to gain a clear objective view of itself.
It is the distinguishing feature of the Egyptian Spirit, that it stands before us as this mighty taskmaster. It is not splendor, amusement, pleasure, or the like that it seeks. The force which urges it is the impulse of self-comprehension; and it has no other material or ground to work on, in order to teach itself what it is – to realize itself for itself – than this working out its thoughts in stone; and what it engraves on the stone are its enigmas – these hieroglyphs. They are of two kinds – hieroglyphs proper, designed rather to express language, and having reference to subjective conception; and a class of hieroglyphs of a different kind, viz., those enormous masses of architecture and sculpture, with which Egypt is covered. While among other nations history consists of a series of events – as, e.g., that of the Romans, who century after century, lived only with a view to conquest, and accomplished the subjugation of the world – the Egyptians raised an empire equally mighty – of achievements in works of art, whose ruins prove their indestructibility, and which are greater and more worthy of astonishment than all other works of ancient or modern time.
Of these works I will mention no others than those devoted to the dead, and which especially attract our attention. These are the enormous excavations in the hills along the Nile at Thebes, whose passages and chambers are entirely filled with mummies – subterranean abodes as large as the largest mining works of our time: next, the great field of the dead in the plain of Sais, with its walls and vaults: thirdly, those Wonders of the World, the Pyramids, whose destination, though stated long ago by Herodotus and Diodorus, has been only recently expressly confirmed – to the effect, viz., that these prodigious crystals, with their geometrical regularity, contain dead bodies: and lastly, that most astonishing work, the Tombs of the Kings, of which one has been opened by Belzoni in modern times. It is of essential moment to observe, what importance this realm of the dead had for the Egyptian: we may thence gather what idea he had of man. For in the Dead, man conceives of man as stripped of all adventitious wrappages – as reduced to his essential nature. But that which a people regards as man in his essential characteristics, that it is itself – such is its character. In the first place, we must here cite the remarkable fact which Herodotus tells us, viz., that the Egyptians were the first to express the thought that the soul of man is immortal. But this proposition that the soul is immortal is intended to mean that it is something other than Nature – that Spirit is inherently independent. The ne plus ultra of blessedness among the Hindoos, was the passing over into abstract unity – into Nothingness. On the other hand, subjectivity, when free, is inherently infinite: the Kingdom of free Spirit is therefore the Kingdom of the Invisible – such as Hades was conceived by the Greeks. This presents itself to men first as the empire of death – to the Egyptians as the Realm of the Dead.
The idea that Spirit is immortal, involves this – that the human individual inherently possesses infinite value. The merely Natural appears limited – absolutely dependent upon something other than itself – and has its existence in that other; but Immortality involves the inherent infinitude of Spirit. This idea is first found among the Egyptians. But it must be added, that the soul was known to the Egyptians previously only as an atom – that is, as something concrete and particular. For with that view is immediately connected the notion of Metempsychosis – the idea that the soul of man may also become the tenant of the body of a brute. Aristotle too speaks of this idea, and despatches it in few words. Every subject, he says, has its particular organs, for its peculiar mode of action: so the smith, the carpenter, each for his own craft. In like manner the human soul has its peculiar organs, and the body of a brute cannot be its domicile. Pythagoras adopted the doctrine of Metempsychosis; but it could not find much support among the Greeks, who held rather to the concrete. The Hindoos have also an indistinct conception of this doctrine, inasmuch as with them the final attainment is absorption in the universal Substance. But with the Egyptians the Soul – the Spirit – is, at any rate, an affirmative being, although only abstractedly affirmative. The period occupied by the soul’s migrations was fixed at three thousand years; they affirmed, however, that a soul which had remained faithful to Osiris, was not subject to such a degradation – for such they deem it.
It is well known that the Egyptians embalmed their dead; and thus imparted such a degree of permanence, that they have been preserved even to the present day, and may continue as they are for many centuries to come. This indeed seems inconsistent with their idea of immortality; for if the soul has an independent existence, the permanence of the body seems a matter of indifference. But on the other hand it may be said, that if the soul is recognized as a permanent existence, honor should be shown to the body, as its former abode. The Parsees lay the bodies of the dead in exposed places to be devoured by birds; but among them the soul is regarded as passing forth into universal existence. Where the soul is supposed to enjoy continued existence, the body must also be considered to have some kind of connection with this continuance. Among us, indeed, the doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul assumes the higher form: Spirit is in and for itself eternal; its destiny is eternal blessedness. – The Egyptians made their dead into mummies; and did not occupy themselves further with them; no honor was paid them beyond this. Herodotus relates of the Egyptians, that when any person died, the women went about loudly lamenting; but the idea of Immortality is not regarded in the light of a consolation, as among us.
From what was said above, respecting the works for the Dead, it is evident that the Egyptians, and especially their kings, made it the business of their life to build their sepulchre, and to give their bodies a permanent abode. It is remarkable that what had been needed for the business of life, was buried with the dead. Thus the craftsman had his tools: designs on the coffin show the occupation to which the deceased had devoted himself; so that we are able to become acquainted with him in all the minutia of his condition and employment. Many mummies have been found with a roll of papyrus under their arm, and this was formerly regarded as a remarkable treasure. But these rolls contain only various representations of the pursuits of life – together with writings in the Demotic character. They have been deciphered, and the discovery has been made, that they are all deeds of purchase, relating to pieces of ground and the like; in which everything is most minutely recorded – even the duties that had to be paid to the royal chancery on the occasion. What, therefore, a person bought during his life, is made to accompany him – in the shape of a legal document – in death. In this monumental way we are made acquainted with the private life of the Egyptians, as with that of the Romans through the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
After the death of an Egyptian, judgment was passed upon him. – One of the principal representations on the sarcophagi is this judicial process in the realm of the dead. Osiris – with Isis behind him – appears, holding a balance, while before him stands the soul of the deceased. But judgment was passed on the dead by the living themselves; and that not merely in the case of private persons, but even of kings. The tomb of a certain king has been discovered – very large, and elaborate in its architecture – in whose hieroglyphs the name of the principal person is obliterated, while in the bas-reliefs and pictorial designs the chief figure is erased. This has been explained to import that the honor of being thus immortalized, was refused this king by the sentence of the Court of the Dead.
If Death thus haunted the minds of the Egyptians during life, it might be supposed that their disposition was melancholy. But the thought of death by no means occasioned depression. At banquets they had representations of the dead (as Herodotus relates), with the admonition: “Eat and drink – such a one wilt thou become, when thou art dead.” Death was thus to them rather a call to enjoy Life. Osiris himself dies, and goes down into the realm of death, according to the above-mentioned Egyptian myth. In many places in Egypt, the sacred grave of Osiris was exhibited. But he was also represented as president of the Kingdom of the Invisible Sphere, and as judge of the dead in it; later on, Serapis exercised this function in his place. Of Anubis- Hermes the myth says, that he embalmed the body of Osiris: this Anubis sustained also the office of leader of the souls of the dead; and in the pictorial representations he stands, with a writing tablet in his hand, by the side of Osiris. The reception of the dead into the Kingdom of Osiris had also a profounder import, viz., that the individual was united with Osiris. On the lids of the sarcophagi, therefore, the defunct is represented as having himself become Osiris; and in deciphering the hieroglyphs, the idea has been suggested that the kings are called gods. The human and the divine are thus exhibited as united. If, in conclusion, we combine what has been said here of the peculiarities of the Egyptian Spirit in all its aspects, its pervading principle is found to be, that the two elements of reality – Spirit sunk in Nature, and the impulse to liberate it – are here held together inharmoniously as contending elements. We behold the antithesis of Nature and Spirit – not the primary Immediate Unity [as in the less advanced nations], nor the Concrete Unity, where Nature is posited only as a basis for the manifestation of Spirit [as in the more advanced] ; in contrast with the first and second of these Unities, the Egyptian Unity – combining contradictory elements – occupies a middle place. The two sides of this unity are held in abstract independence of each other, and their veritable union presented only as a problem. We have, therefore, on the one side, prodigious confusion and limitation to the particular; barbarous sensuality with African hardness, Zoolatry, and sensual enjoyment. It is stated that, in a public market-place, sodomy was Committed by a woman with a goat. Juvenal relates that human flesh was eaten and human blood drunk out of revenge. The other side is the struggle of Spirit for liberation – fancy displayed in the forms created by art, together with the abstract understanding shown in the mechanical labors connected with their production. The same intelligence – the power of altering the form of individual existences, and that steadfast thoughtfulness which can rise above mere phenomena – shows itself in their police and the mechanism of the State, in agricultural economy, etc.; and the contrast to this is the severity with which their customs bind them, and the superstition to which humanity among them is inexorably subject. With a clear understanding of the present, is connected the highest degree of impulsiveness, daring and turbulence. These features are combined in the stories which Herodotus relates to us of the Egyptians. They much resemble the tales of the Thousand and One Nights; and although these have Bagdad as the locality of their narration, their origin is no more limited to this luxurious court, than to the Arabian people, but must be partly traced to Egypt – as Von Hammer also thinks. The Arabian world is quite other than the fanciful and enchanted region there described; it has much more simple passions and interests. Love, Martial Daring, the Horse, the Sword, are the darling subjects of the poetry peculiar to the Arabians.


Transition to the Greek World
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.[15] 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. That the Spirit of the Egyptians presented itself to their consciousness in the form of a problem, is evident from the celebrated inscription in the sanctuary of the Goddess Neith at Sais: “I am that which is, that which was, and that which will be; no one has lifted my veil.” This inscription indicates the principle of the Egyptian Spirit; though the opinion has often been entertained, that its purport applies to all times. Proclus supplies the addition: “The fruit which I have produced is Helios.” That which is clear to itself is, therefore, the result of, and the solution of, the problem in question. This lucidity is Spirit – the Son of Neith the concealed night-loving divinity. In the Egyptian Neith, Truth is still a problem. The Greek Apollo is its solution; his utterance is: “Man, know thyself.” In this dictum is not intended a self-recognition that regards the specialities of one’s own weaknesses and defects: it is not the individual that is admonished to become acquainted with his idiosyncrasy, but humanity in general is summoned to self-knowledge. This mandate was given for the Greeks, and in the Greek Spirit humanity exhibits itself in its clear and developed condition. Wonderfully, then, must the Greek legend surprise us, which relates, that the Sphinx – the great Egyptian symbol – appeared in Thebes, uttering the words: “What is that which in the morning goes on four legs, at midday on two, and in the evening on three?” OEdipus, giving the solution, Man, precipitated the Sphinx from the rock. The solution and liberation of that Oriental Spirit, which in Egypt had advanced so far as to propose the problem, is certainly this: that the Inner Being [the Essence] of Nature is Thought, which has its existence only in the human consciousness. But that timehonored antique solution given by OEdipus – who thus shows himself possessed of knowledge – is connected with a dire ignorance of the character of his own actions. The rise of spiritual illumination in the old royal house is disparaged by connection with abominations, the result of ignorance; and that primeval royalty must – in order to attain true knowledge and moral clearness – first be brought into shapely form, and be harmonized with the Spirit of the Beautiful, by civil laws and political freedom.
The inward or ideal transition, from Egypt to Greece is as just exhibited. But Egypt became a province of the great Persian kingdom, and the historical transition takes place when the Persian world comes in contact with the Greek. Here, for the first time, an historical transition meets us, viz. in the fall of an empire. China and India, as already mentioned, have remained – Persia has not. The transition to Greece is, indeed, internal; but here it shows itself also externally, as a transmission of sovereignty – an occurrence which from this time forward is ever and anon repeated. For the Greeks surrender the sceptre of dominion and of civilization to the Romans, and the Romans are subdued by the Germans. If we examine this fact of transition more closely, the question suggests itself – for example, in this first case of the kind, viz. Persia – why it sank, while China and India remain. In the first place we must here banish from our minds the prejudice in favor of duration, as if it had any advantage as compared with transience: the imperishable mountains are not superior to the quickly dismantled rose exhaling its life in fragrance. In Persia begins the principle of Free Spirit as contrasted with imprisonment in Nature; mere natural existence, therefore, loses its bloom, and fades away. The principle of separation from Nature is found in the Persian Empire, which, therefore, occupies a higher grade than those worlds immersed in the Natural. The necessity of advance has been thereby proclaimed. Spirit has disclosed its existence, and must complete its development. It is only when dead that the Chinese is held in reverence. The Hindoo kills himself – becomes absorbed in Brahm – undergoes a living death in the condition of perfect unconsciousness – or is a present god in virtue of his birth. Here we have no change; no advance is admissible, for progress is only possible through the recognition of the independence of Spirit. With the “Light” of the Persians begins a spiritual view of things, and here Spirit bids adieu to Nature. It is here, then, that we first find (as occasion called us to notice above) that the objective world remains free – that the nations are not enslaved, but are left in possession of their wealth, their political constitution, and their religion. And, indeed, this is the side on which Persia itself shows weakness as compared with Greece. For we see that the Persians could erect no empire possessing complete organization; that they could not “inform” the conquered lands with their principle, and were unable to make them into a harmonious Whole, but were obliged to be content with an aggregate of the most diverse individualities. Among these nations the Persians secured no inward recognition of the legitimacy of their rule; they could not establish their legal principles of enactments, and in organizing their dominion, they only considered themselves, not the whole extent of their empire. Thus, as Persia did not constitute, politically, one Spirit, it appeared weak in contrast with Greece. It was not the effeminacy of the Persians (although, perhaps, Babylon infused an enervating element) that ruined them, but the unwieldy, unorganized character of their host, as matched against Greek organization; i.e., the superior principle overcame the inferior. The abstract principle of the Persians displayed its defectiveness as an unorganized, incompacted union of disparate contradictories; in which the Persian doctrine of Light stood side by side with Syrian voluptuousness and luxury, with the activity and courage of the sea-braving Phoenicians, the abstraction of pure Thought in the Jewish Religion, and the mental unrest of Egypt; – an aggregate of elements, which awaited their idealization, and could receive it only in free Individuality. The Greeks must be looked upon as the people in whom these elements interpenetrated each other: Spirit became introspective, triumphed over particularity, and thereby emancipated itself.

 
 

 

Notes

1. Mr. G. H. Lewes, in his Biographical History of Philosophy, Vol. IV, Ed. 1841.

2. I cannot mention any work that will serve as a compendium of the course, but I may remark that in my “Outlines of the Philosophy of Law,” 341-360, I have already given a definition of such a Universal History as it is proposed to develop, and a syllabus of the chief elements or periods into which it naturally divides itself.

3. Fr. von Schlegel, “Philosophy of History,” p. 91, Bohn’s Standard Library.

4. We have to thank this interest for many valuable discoveries in Oriental literature, and for a renewed study of treasures previously known, in the department of ancient Asiatic Culture, Mythology, Religions, and History. In Catholic countries, where a refined literary taste prevails, Governments have yielded to the requirements of speculative inquiry, and have felt the necessity of allying themselves with learning and philosophy. Eloquently and impressively has the Abbé Lamennais reckoned it among the criteria of the true religion, that it must be the universal – that is, catholic – and the oldest in date; and the Congregation has labored zealously and diligently in France towards rendering such assertions no longer mere pulpit tirades and authoritative dicta, such as were deemed sufficient formerly. The religion of Buddha – a godman – which has prevailed to such an enormous extent, has especially attracted attention. The Indian Timûrtis, as also the Chinese abstraction of the Trinity, has furnished clearer evidence in point of subject matter. The savants, M. Abel Remusat and M. Saint Martin, on the one hand, have undertaken the most meritorious investigations in the Chinese literature, with a view to make this also a base of operations for researches in the Mongolian and, if such were possible, in the Thibetan; on the other hand, Baron von Eckstein – in his way (i.e., adopting from Germany superficial physical conceptions and mannerisms, in the style of Fr. v. Schlegel, though with more geniality than the latter) in his periodical, “Le Catholique” – has furthered the cause of that primitive Catholicism generally, and in particular has gained for the savans of the Congregation the support of the Government; so that it has even set on foot expeditions to the East, in order to discover there treasures still concealed; (from which further disclosures have been anticipated, respecting profound theological questions, particularly on the higher antiquity and sources of Buddhism), and with a view to promote the interests of Catholicism by this circuitous but scientifically interesting method.

5. German, “Geschichte” from “Geschehen,” to happen. – ED. Vide Hegel’s “Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion,” I. 284 and 289. 2d Ed.

6. The essence of Spirit is self-determination or “Freedom.” Where Spirit has attained mature growth, as in the man who acknowledges the absolute validity of the dictates of Conscience, the Individual is “a law to himself,” and this Freedom is “realized.” But in lower stages of morality and civilization, he unconsciously projects this legislative principle into some “governing power” (one or several), and obeys it as if it were an alien, extraneous force, not the voice of that Spirit of which he himself (though at this stage imperfectly) is an embodiment. The Philosophy of History exhibits the successive stages by which he reaches the consciousness, that it is his own inmost being that thus governs him – i.e., a consciousness of self-determination or “Freedom.” – ED.

7. It is evident that the term “moral standpoint” is used here in the strict sense in which Hegel has defined it, in his “Philosophy of Law,” as that of the self-determination of subjectivity, free conviction of the Good. The reader, therefore, should not misunderstand the use that continues to be made of the terms, morality, moral government, etc., in reference to the Chinese; as they denote morality only in the loose and ordinary meaning of the word – precepts or commands given with a view to producing good behavior – without bringing into relief the element of internal conviction. – ED.

8. Vide Hegel’s “Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie,” vol. i. p. 138, etc.

9. Only recently has Professor Rosen, residing in London, gone thoroughly into the matter and given a specimen of the text with a translation, Rig-Veda; Specimen, ed. Fr. Rosen. Lond. 1830.” (More recently, since Rosen’s death, the whole Rig- Veda, London, 1839, has been published from MSS. left by him.)

10. “A. W. v. Schlegel has published the first and second Volume; the most important Episodes of the Mahabharata have been introduced to public notice by F. Bopp, and a complete Edition has appeared at Calcutta.” – German Editor.

11. As in Hegel’s original plan and in the first lecture the transition from Indian Brahminism to Buddhism occupies the place assigned it here, and as this position of the chapter on Buddhism agrees better with recent investigations, its detachment from the place which it previously occupied and mention here will appear sufficiently justified. – ED.

12. Compare Hegel’s “ Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion,” 2d Edition, Pt. I. p. 284.

13. In earlier stages of progress, the mandates of Spirit (social and political law), are given as by a power alien to itself – as by some compulsion of mere Nature. Gradually it sees the untruth of this alien form of validity – recognizes these mandates as its own, and adopts them freely as a law of liberty. It then stands in clear opposition to its logical contrary – Nature. – ED.

14. Abstractions were to take the place of analogies. The power to connect particular conceptions as analogical, does but just fall short of the ability to comprehend the general idea which links them. – ED.

15. That is, blind obedience to moral requirements – to principle abstracted from personal conviction or inclination, as among the Chinese. – ED.

16. See Hegel’s “Vorles. über die Philos. der Religion,” II. p. 102 et seq. (2d edition.)

17. That is – the Objective and the Subjective Will must be harmonized. – ED.

18. “Plastic,” intimating his absolute devotion to statesmanship; the latter not being a mere mechanical addition, but diffused as a vitalizing; and formative power through the whole man. The same term is used below to distinguish the vitalizing morality that pervades the dramas of Æschylus and Sophocles, from the abstract sentimentalities of Euripides. – ED.

19. Otfried Müller, in his “History of the Dorians,” gives too dignified an aspect to this fact; he says that Justice was, as it were, imprinted on their minds. But such an imprinting is always something indefinite; laws must be written, that it may be distinctly known what is forbidden and what is allowed.

20. The harsh requirements of an ungenial tyranny call forth man’s highest powers of self-sacrifice; he learns his moral capacity; dissatisfaction with anything short of perfection ensues – consciousness of sin; and this sentiment in its greatest intensity, produces union with God. – ED.

21. So the English “train” from French “trainer” – to draw or drag. – ED.

22. “I was alive without the law once,” etc. Rom. vii. 9.

23. In the Lutheran ritual, “a holy Catholic Church” is substituted for “the Holy Catholic Church,” in the Belief.

24. That is: The Supreme Law of the Universe is recognized as identical with the dictates of Conscience – becomes a “law of liberty.” Morality – that authority which has the incontestable right to determine men’s actions, which therefore is the only absolutely free and unlimited power – is no longer a compulsory enactment, but the free choice of human beings.

25. The good man would make Law for himself if he found none made for him.

26. The influence of the Crusades and of the discovery of America was simply reflex. No other phase of humanity was thereby merged in Christendom.

27. The conception of a mystical regnum Patris, regnum Filii and regnum Spiritûs Sancti is perfectly familiar to metaphysical theologians. The first represents the period in which Deity is not yet manifested – remains self-evolved. The second is that of manifestation in an individual being, standing apart from mankind generally – “the Son.” The third is that in which this barrier is broken down, and an intimate mystical communion ensues between God in Christ and the Regenerated, when God is “all in all.” This remark may serve to prevent misconception as to the tone of the remainder of the paragraph. The mention of the Greek myth will appear pertinent in the view of those who admit what seems a very reasonable explanation of it – viz., as an adumbration of the self-involved character of the prehistorical period.

28. The word “Gemüth” has no exactly corresponding term in English. It is used further on synonymously with “Herz,” and the openness to various emotions and impressions which it implies, may perhaps be approximately rendered by “Heart.” Yet it is but an awkward substitute.

29. Formal Will or Subjective Freedom is inclination or mere casual liking, and is opposed to Substantial or Objective Will – also called Objective Freedom – which denotes the principles that form the basis of society, and that have been spontaneously adopted by particular nations or by mankind generally. The latter as well as the former may lay claim to being a manifestation of Human Will. For however rigid the restraints which those principles impose on individuals, they are the result of no extraneous compulsion brought to bear on the community at large, and are recognized as rightfully authoritative even by the individuals whose physical comfort or relative affections they most painfully contravene. Unquestioning homage to unreasonable despotism, and the severe rubrics of religious penance, can be traced to no natural necessity or stimulus ab extra. The principles in which these originate, may rather be called the settled and supreme determination of the community that recognizes them. The term “Objective Will” seems therefore not unfitly used to describe the psychological phenomena in question. The term “Substantial Will” (as opposed to “Formal Will”), denoting the same phenomena, needs no defence or explanation. The third term, “Objective Freedom,” used synonymously with the two preceding, is justified on the ground of the unlimited dominion exercised by such principles as those mentioned above. “Deus solus liber.”

30. An incapacity for conspiracy has been remarked as a characteristic feature of the Teutonic portion of the inhabitants of the British Isles, as compared with their Celtic countrymen. If such a difference can be substantiated, we seem to have an important illustration and confirmation of Hegel’s view. – ED.

31. Pure Self – pure subjectivity or personality – not only excludes all that is manifestly objective, all that is evidently Not-Self, but also abstracts from any peculiar conditions that may temporarily adhere to it, e.g., youth or age, riches or poverty, a present or a future state. Thus though it seems, prima facie, a fixed point or atom, it is absolutely unlimited. By loss or degradation of bodily and mental faculties, it is possible to conceive one’s self degraded to a position which it would be impossible to distinguish from that which we attribute to the brutes, or by increase and improvement of those faculties, indefinitely elevated in the scale of being, while yet self – personal identity – is retained. On the other hand, Absolute Being in the Christian concrete view, is an Infinite Self. The Absolutely Limited is thus shown to be identical with the Absolutely Unlimited.

32. All human actions, projects, institutions, etc., begin to be brought to the bar of “principle” – the sanctum of subjectivity – for absolute decision on their merits, instead of being referred to an extraneous authority.

33. The term “Cathari” (kaqaroi). Purists, was one of the most general designations of the dissident sects in question. The German word “Ketzer” = heretic is by some derived from it.

34. That is, not a personal aim, whose self-seeking character is its condemnation, but a general and liberal, consequently a moral aim.

35. The Church, in its devotion to mere ceremonial observances, supposes itself to be engaged with the Spiritual, while it is really occupied with the Sensuous. The World towards the close of the Mediaeval period, is equally devoted to the Sensuous, but labors under no such hallucination as to the character of its activity; and it has ceased to feel compunction at the merely secular nature of its aims and actions, such as it might have felt (e.g.) in the eleventh century.

36. The community of principle which really links together individuals of the same class, and in virtue of which they are similarly related to other existences, assumes a form in human consciousness; and that form is the thought or idea Which summarily comprehends the constituents of generic character. The primary meaning of the word idea and of the related terms eidos and species, is “form.” Every “Universal” in Thought has a corresponding generic principle in Reality, to which it gives intellectual expression or form.

37. The acknowledgment of an external power authorized to command the entire soul of man was not supplanted in their case by a deference to Conscience and subjective Principle (i.e., the union of Objective and Subjective freedom) as the supreme authority.

38. That is, the harmony in question simply exists; its development and results have not yet manifested themselves.

39. There is no current term in English denoting that great intellectual movement which dates from the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and which, if not the chief cause, was certainly the guiding genius of the French Revolution. The word “Illuminati” (signifying the members of an imaginary confederacy for propagating the open secret of the day), might suggest “Illumination,” as an equivalent for the German “Aufklärung”; but the French “Éclaircissement” conveys a more specific idea. – J. S.

40. Abstractions (pure thoughts), are, vi termini, detached from the material objects which suggested them, and are at least as evidential the product of the thinking mind as of the external world. Hence they are ridiculed by the unintelligent as mere fancies. In proportion as such abstractions involve activity and intensity of thought, the mind may be said to be occupied with itself in contemplating them. – J. S.

41. The sensational conclusions of the “materialistic” school of the 18th century are reached by the “axiom of Contradiction and Identity,” as applied in this simple dilemma: “In cognition, Man is either active or passive; he is not active (unless he is grossly deceiving himself), therefore he is passive; therefore all knowledge is derived ab extra. What this external objective being is of which this knowledge is the cognition, remains an eternal mystery – i.e., as Hegel says: “The results of thought are posited as finite.” – J. S.

42. “Freedom of the Will,” in Hegel’s use of the term, has an intensive signification, and must be distinguished from “Liberty of Will” in its ordinary acceptation. The latter denotes a mere liability to be affected by extrinsic motives: the former is that absolute strength of Will which enables it to defy all seductions that challenge its persistency. Its sole object is self-assertion. In fact it is Individuality maintaining itself against all dividing or distracting forces. And to maintain individuality is to preserve consistency – to “act on principle” – phrases with which Language, the faithful conservator of metaphysical genealogies, connects virtuous associations. In adopting a code of Duties, and in acknowledging Rights, the Will recognises its own Freedom in this intensive sense, for in such adoption it declares its own ability to pursue a certain course of action in spite of all inducements, sensuous or emotional, to deviate from it. These remarks may supply some indications of the process referred to in the text. – T. S.

43. “Formal Freedom” is mere liberty to do what one likes. It is called “formal,” because, as already indicated, the matter of volition – what it is that is willed – is left entirely undetermined. In the next paragraph the writer goes on to show that some definite object was associated with a sentiment otherwise unmeaning or bestial, “Vive la Liberté!” – J. S.

44. The radical correspondence of “Gleichheit” and “Vergleichung” is attempted to be rendered in English by the terms parity and comparison, and perhaps etymology may justify the expedient. The meaning of the derivative “comparatio” seems to point to the connection of its root “paro” with “par.” – J. S.

45. That is, the will of the individual goes along with the requirements of reasonable Laws. – J. S.

 

 
     
         
 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy