George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German Philosopher who was born in Stuttgart in 1770. As a young man, he studied theology, but was also impelled to explore philosophy due to the upheaval of this treacherous time in history. The Reign of Terror and French Revolution had a huge impact on Germany and Europe, and Hegel became caught up in the fervor and outrage of the period and wanted to take a deeper look at the events that were occurring. His look and analysis of the French Revolution is what began his reflection of history.
After graduation from the seminary, Hegel joined the faculty of the University of Jena, the philosophic center of Germany. While there, he wrote Phenomenology of Spirit, his first major book. Hegel left the University in 1806 after the battle of Jena in which Napoleon and his troops battled Frederick William III of Prussia. Hegel then moved to Nuremburg and became headmaster of philosophy at a high school there, with future teaching philosophy positions secured at several universities. During this time as an educator, he published his books Science of Logic (1813), Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1817), and his Philosophy of Right (1821). Hegel died in 1831 due to contracting cholera during the European pandemic. His friends and contemporaries believed that he still had a significant contribution to philosophy left to make. They gathered his hand-written lecture notes and combined them with transcripts of his lectures made by his student listeners. The resulting publications were the Philosophy of Art, the Philosophy of Religion, the Philosophy of History, and the History of Philosophy.
Hegel proposed that we can better understand ourselves and the world by studying history. In his Philosophy of History, he first mentions the three types of history: Original History, Reflective History, and Philosophic History.
Original History is oriented from the point in time that the event is happening. Those original historians were living at the time that the history that they were writing about occurred. These individuals essentially reported facts about events that occurred. Original historians relied heavily upon the writings of other contemporaries, because it would be impossible for them to have seen everything that occurred at once. Original history is where we get direct accounts of legend, folklore, and traditions because a person would have to have been there to truly know about these. The great advantage that original historians have over the others is that they lived through and were shaped by the events as they unfolded. They can descriptively write about them from their experience, as opposed to a historian writing accounts based on the writings of others hundreds of years later. Hegel said of these historians, “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,...