Over the past two days, I have read (or skimmed) G.W.F. Hegel, J.G. Herder, David Hume, and Karl Marx (but not much Marx, because I got bored). I have also read about Alexander Pope, Homer, Friedrich Schiller, Montesqieu, neo-classicism, and the philosophy of history. (Being a grad student does wonders for your speed-reading abilities…)
All that to say that I found this passage in Hegel to be rather amusing, but that could be just because I’m going cross-eyed.
Here in Germany, the so-called “higher criticism” has invaded not only the whole realm of literary studies, but also that of historical writing (in which, by abandoning the basic task of history, i.e., judicious historical studies, writers have left the way open for the most arbitrary ideas and combinations). This higher criticism has been the pretext for introducing all the un-historical monstrosities a vain imagination could suggest. It too is a method of bringing a present into the past, namely by substituting subjective fancies for historical data–fancies which are considered the more excellent the bolder they are, that is, the less they have to substantiate them, the scantier the details on which they are based, and the more widely they diverge from the best established facts of history. (Hegel, Introduction to the Lectures on the Philosophy of History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975, p 23)
Note that Hegel’s Philosophy of History and his History of Philosophy are two entirely separate works. Yeah, that confused me for a while. Especially since the editions I got from the library are just the introductions, anyway. Because the Introduction to the Lectures on the Philosophy of History is in the philosophy section, but the actual Lectures on the Philosophy of History is in the history section. Which sort of makes sense, but didn’t really when I didn’t know the intricacies of Hegel’s works as well as I do now. My professor tried to scare me away from Hegel, but I actually enjoyed what I read of him. Not as hard as Kant, and more interesting. (But then, I find history more interesting than philosophy–if I tried to read some of Hegel’s more philosophic stuff, I might have more difficulty. The Phenomenology of Spirit certainly sounds daunting, at least.)
My European Romanticism class has apparently turned into a philosophy class, hasn’t it? At least as far as the topics I keep picking go (the current topic being the differences between neo-classical and Romantic views of history, especially as it relates to their appropriation of/imitation of/admiration for Homer and classical poetry). Oh, well. It’s actually really interesting…these are the kind of philosophers I wanted to learn about in the Intro to Philosophy class I took my senior year of college. Instead I got a whole semester on pre-Platonic Greek philosophy, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the definition of worldview, which I already knew, thank you very much. Now if I can just figure out a way to study the existentialists (i.e., tie them into a paper, because without accountability I’ll never study them), I’ll be happy. :) Also, what does it say about me and poetry that I’d rather attempt Kant, Hegel, Hume, and Herder than Shelley and Wordsworth? Hmmmm…..
In other news, if my browser would quit freezing every few seconds, it would be enormously beneficial to my ability to, I don’t know, DO ANYTHING?! Firefox has been hogging resources even more than usual lately, and even restarting everything doesn’t seem to help for very long. I just uninstalled several plugins I don’t use very much…hopefully that will help.