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Progressing Toward the End of Spirit: Hegel on World History

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  1. Introduction
  2. Hegel's lectures and essays
  3. Spirit as being a catalyst which activates us
  4. The breakdown of states and nations
  5. Conclusion

Although Hegel's concept of spirit can sound like a purely metaphysical concept, more simply it is the ultimate force of our wills. Hegel believes that the wills of individuals, (which are inherently free wills,) that make up a nation are a kind of collective consciousness, which has an ultimate destiny. That ultimate destiny is freedom. Hegel also believes that the ultimate destiny of the human race is to realize the freedom that is already present in their wills. This process of realizing one's freedom is the work of spirit.

[...] The particular spirit of a particular nation may perish; but it is a link in the chain of the world spirit's development, and this universal spirit cannot perish.[6] The breakdown of states and nations, according to Hegel, often happens when an individual ignores the ends of the nation, and instead focuses solely on his or her individual desires and passions. When the individual becomes solely subjective and does not cooperate with the national spirit, this causes dissent and a possible breakdown of the state. [...]


[...] is active within (spirit); and whatever he does, the spirit is also active within Hegel explains. . (Spirit) assumes the shape of a human individual . However, he goes on to explain that the lives of individuals are inconsequential when talking about world history. This is not to say that Hegel dismisses individual freedom as being irrelevant, rather that it is difficult to see spirit at work in the individual since all individuals are finite and mortal. It is easier to see spirit at work in the nation. [...]

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