Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born in Stuttgart in 1770. His father was in the fiscal service of the King of Wuerttemberg. He studied in Tuebingen. He was heavy and slow of development, in striking contrast with Schelling. He served as tutor in Bern and Frankfort, and began to lecture in Jena in 1801. He was much overshadowed by Schelling. The victory of Napoleon at Jena in 1806 closed the university for a time. In 1818 he was called to Fichte’s old chair in Berlin. Never on very good terms with the Prussian Government, he yet showed his large sympathy with life in every way. After 1820 a school of philosophical thinkers began to gather about him. His first great book, his Phenomenologie des Geistes 1807 (translated, Baillie, London, 1910), was published at the end of his Jena period. His Philosophie der Religion and Philosophie der Geschichte were edited after his death. They are mainly in the form which his notes took between 1823 and 1827. He died during an epidemic of cholera in Berlin in 1831.
Besides his deep interest in history the most striking feature of Hegel’s preliminary training was his profound study of Christianity. He might almost be said to have turned to philosophy as a means of formulating the ideas which he had conceived concerning the development of the religious consciousness, which seemed to him to have been the bearer of all human culture. No one could fail to see that the idea of the relation of God and man, of which we have been speaking, was bound to make itself felt in the interpretation of the doctrine of the incarnation and of all the dogmas, like that of the trinity, which are connected with it. Characteristically, Hegel had pure joy in the speculative aspects of the problem. If one may speak in all reverence, and, at the same time, not without a shade of humour, Hegel rejoiced to find himself able, as he supposed, to rehabilitate the dogma of the trinity, rationalised in approved fashion. It is as if the dogma had been a revered form or mould, which was for him indeed emptied of its original content. He felt bound to fill it anew. Or to speak more justly, he was really convinced that the new meaning which he poured into the dogma was the true meaning which the Church Fathers had been seeking all the while. In the light of two generations of sober dealing, as historians, with such problems, we can but view his solution in a manner very different from that which he indulged. He was even disposed mildly to censure the professional theologians for leaving the defence of the doctrine of the trinity to the philosophers. There were then, and have since been, defenders of the doctrine who have thought that Hegel tendered them great aid. As a matter of fact, despite his own utter seriousness and reverent desire, his solution was a complete dissolution of the doctrine and of much else besides. His view