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The philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Stuttgart, Germany, 1770 – Berlin 1831) is a synthesis and development of the previous ones of Fichte and Schelling. In Fichte the I produces in itself its dream world, in Schelling this world is nothing but the I itself; Hegel addressed to Schelling a criticism that became famous: this vision, in which everything is I, is like “the night in which all the cows are black”. In Hegel the I realizes itself rather in the form of history. History means the political history of the whole world, as well as the small personal histories of every single person; it means dialectic of struggle and overcoming, therefore continuous progress, even war if necessary, ever greater realization of an absolute spirit that is the universal I. In this perspective every negative event is nothing but a passage to reach a higher stage, in which the universal reason continues to realize its absoluteness ever better; if to get to this somebody will be killed, let’s be patient; what’s important is the infinite I, represented, for example, by the State, to which the individual “Is” (meant as a plural of I) who are part of it must possibly be sacrificed. This is why Hegel’s philosophy was suitable be exploited in the service of dictatorships, even if the intention, at least in the beginning, of its author was not this.
An important aspect of Hegel’s philosophy is the awareness of the world and of existence as history, as a development, a series of overcoming, which must be read, interpreted, in such a way as to exploit their orientation towards the best progress. This way of thinking would lead us to look this way at nature as well, which for example goes on according to its own laws, according to the law of the strongest, ruthlessly sacrificing the weakest beings. About this instead Hegel diverges: for him, nature is not part of the history of the I, but is only a negative moment to be overcome. Hegel’s optimism regarding the history of the I does not apply to the nature itself; the history of the I is for Hegel political history, or the events of the single person, but nature was seen by him as something dead, which has not an I; he expressly stated that he felt no interest, for example, when he saw a beautiful landscape: looking at snowy mountains he felt only a sense of boredom.
Within the awareness of history as a development of the I, its interpretation of the relationship between servant and master is interesting. When a person has the courage not to fear death, to risk, to invest, then he becomes master; the coward who has not courage, but only knows how to put himself in the employ of someone, is destined to become a servant, a slave; but, once these respective positions are reached, it happens that the master does not know how to use the objects of work and fails to see in the servant a conscious conscience able to stimulate him to a development; then the master, in the absence of further prospects, gets losing his I, while instead the servant finds himself in the ideal condition to be motivated to fight for self-awareness; here then the servant realizes himself as I, while the master decays. The key to this development is the ability of the work to function as an engine of realization of the I. This philosophy prepares that of Marx.