Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Hegel a great philosopher who was born in Stuttgart on August 27, 1770, the son of Georg Ludwig Hegel, a revenue officer with the Duchy of Wurttemburg. The Eldest of three children (his younger brother, Georg Ludwig, died young as an officer with Napoleon during the Russian campaign), he was brought up in an atmosphere of Protestant pietism.

Hegel became thoroughly acquainted with the Greek and Roman classics while studying at the Stuttgart Gymnasium (preparatory school). He was good at German literature and science. Hegel was encouraged by his father to become a clergyman, but he entered the seminary at the University of Tübingen in 1788. There Hegel made relationships with the poet Friedrich Hölderlin and the philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling and other thinkers and philosophers.

His mother taught him Latin before he began school, but she died when he was 11 years old. He was very close to his sister, Christiane, who later developed a kind of jealousy of Hegel’s wife when he married her at age of 40, and then she committed suicide after Hegel's death. Hegel was deeply concerned by his sister’s psychosis, so he developed ideas of psychiatry based on concepts of dialectics.

From Hölderlin in particular, Hegel developed a profound interest in Greek literature and philosophy. Early on and throughout his life, Hegel recorded and committed to memory everything he read – and he read profusely! Hegel worshipped Goethe and long regarded himself as inferior to his brilliant contemporaries Schelling and Hölderlin.

At the time of Hegel’s death, he was the most prominent and famous philosopher in Germany. His views were widely taught, and his students were highly regarded and considered. His followers soon divided into right-wing and left-wing Hegelians. Theologically and politically the right-wing Hegelians offered a conservative interpretation of his work.

They emphasised the compatibility between Hegel’s philosophy and Christianity. Politically, they were orthodox. The left-wing Hegelians eventually moved to an atheistic position. In politics, many of them became revolutionaries. This historically important left-wing group included Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, Friedrich Engels, and Karl Marx.

Died in November 14, 1831 (aged 61).