Philosophy 229 - 12.2.1 Hegel’s Dialectic Method

Hegel argued that history itself was the movement created by the interaction between a thesis (an original state) and a force countering that original state (antithesis), resulting in a new and higher state (synthesis). This dialectic can be likened to a grade report: based on the original grades (the thesis), a student will ideally reflect on their performance and address areas of weakness (antithesis) to ultimately arrive at a higher understanding of the topics under study (synthesis).

Hegel argued that in various eras of history, Absolute Spirit—which might be understood in many ways, including God or the collective human consciousness—confronts its own essence and transitions to a higher state. Hegel saw this most clearly in the life of Jesus and the birth of Christianity. Hegel presents Jesus as a rational philosopher who reflects on and confronts Judaism—antithesis challenging thesis. The resurrection of Jesus following his crucifixion symbolizes an awakened consciousness both in the individual of Jesus and in humanity. Within this framework, the birth of Christianity following Jesus’s resurrection is viewed as the synthesis, the higher state (Dale 2006).

A stone planter carved with the text, “The history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom. - Hegel”
Figure 12.5 This quote from Hegel, carved into a public monument in Rocky Ripple, Indiana, captures his belief in the power of thoughts to change the world. (credit: “Hegel Quote” by Bart Everson/Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
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The content of this course has been taken from the free Philosophy textbook by Openstax