Differences between hegel and kant theories of history

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:Politics

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Some of their views on these concepts represent similarities in thought or direction of one’s thoughts. However, their ideas and views on these concepts also show differences that exist among the two. Firstly, Kant’s ideas on issues pertaining to universal history were unique from those of Hegel. Kant came up with nine propositions in trying to illustrate his point of view on universal history. The first proposition alluded that all the natural capacities of creatures were destined to be developed completely and in conformance with their end. This proposition was used to illustrate that everything in existence is governed by the laws of nature. It further highlights that if the laws of nature are not in existence, the guiding principles of reason will replace the dismal reign of chance (‘Idea for Universal History’ 42). Kant, moreover, argued that the history of the human race could be viewed as a realization of hidden plans of nature in order to bring out internal and external political constitutions as the only possible states in which man’s natural capacities and capabilities could be formed or developed completely. The second and third propositions major on a person’s capacity to reason and nature of a man to produce based on his own intuition (‘Idea for Universal History’ 43). The reason is described as a creature or a faculty that aids other creatures to extend beyond the natural limits of instincts. For it to be effective, reason requires a person to practice, trial, and following instructions to learn.

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It also shows that people are not only supposed to be guided by instincts alone but also with was also meant to produce everything out of themselves. On the other hand, Hegel’s account of self-consciousness tried to depict a person’s self-consciousness as being in unity with its object (‘Hegel Self-Consciousness’ 1). This kind of relationship gives birth to the beginning of the experience. Conscious of self is the underlying basis for consciousness for anything else. It is also the starting point for further analysis of the experience of something at a higher level than the sense of realization. Self-consciousness, according to Hegel, is often viewed as the beginning of attitude; which is a distinctive type of experience which often needs elucidation (‘Hegel Self-Consciousness’ 2). Hegel’s ideas on self-consciousness, moreover, encompassed viewing different kinds of content through which consciousness is supposed to find oneness (‘Hegel Self-Consciousness’ 3).

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The different kinds of content also depict different degrees of realization of conscious of self argument. The result of this argument is that consciousness of self is actually realized when it is universal self-consciousness. The process of achieving enlightenment is slow as is the process of rational thinking. Kant’s views of freedom through enlightenment encompass that people be allowed to make public use of their reasons and thoughts (‘Kant- What is Enlightenment’ 56). His ideas encourage people to argue and reason while at the same time obeying what is to be obeyed. His views on enlightenment and freedom illustrate that existence of restrictions to reason or argue limits enlightenment among people. Kant argues that public use of a man’s reason must always be made free but private use can be restricted by only narrowly.

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Self-consciousness enables a person to think freely without being coerced by other forces, which are mostly external in nature and existence (‘Absolute Freedom and Terror’ 2). Those who lack self-consciousness or are unable to use or apply it in real life are incapable of experiencing absolute freedom. In most cases, such people are let to rely on others for guidance on the way forward on some of the most critical issues in the society. Hegel argued that absolute freedom, in certain cases, helped boost the sense of self-consciousness among certain people. The feeling and need for absolute freedom spearheaded by a group of people could boost consciousness of self among people who understood absolute freedom but couldn’t apply it. Contradiction, according to Kant, was a recipe for self-destruction. Hegel, on the other hand, viewed contradiction as a force that ultimately drives progress towards freedom (‘Spirit, the Ethical World’ 3).

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The differences between Kant and Hegel have great impacts on our understanding of certain concepts in philosophy and history in general. Firstly, the differences between Kant’s view on reason and Hegel’s account of self-consciousness can be combined to obtain a hybrid of ideas that work in for both points of views. It is possible for a person to reason and apply his own intuition while being self-conscious about things surrounding them. In conclusion, Hegel and Kant had varying views on issues such as freedom and a person’s capability to make decisions. Kant based his views on freedom on enlightenment and ability to use reason. He came up with nine propositions that addressed the concept of universal freedom some of which based on the pure application of reason and facts.

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Hegel, on the other hand, attempted to explain the concepts of freedom and decision making by applying self-consciousness. Absolute freedom, according to Hegel, was a result of proper application of self-consciousness.

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